One of my favorite things about Jesus is when He does something that defies our expectations in order reveal a pervasive religious attitude we might possess. He doesn’t do this to shame us. He does this to help us walk in a greater level of freedom. He did this for me recently when I was reading the gospel of Matthew. Look at this passage out of Matthew 20:
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
In this passage of scripture Jesus taught His disciples the key to being great in His kingdom. This is very ironic as many Christians believe it is a sin to want to be great. They believe pursuing greatness is a form of pride and the key to being like Christ is to be humble. While I agree that we should pursue humility, it’s interesting that Jesus never told His disciples to not want to be great. Jesus wanted His disciples to be great and then gave them the key to doing so. This key was to serve others. Serving others to become great was a complete paradigm shift for His disciples and REDEFINED GREATNESS!
This thought about redefining greatness leads to 2 important questions:
- Why do many of us buy into a false humility that teaches us we shouldn’t want to be great?
- Why is the key to greatness in God’s kingdom defined by serving others?
I think the reason many people don’t aspire to greatness is because they have a wrong view of God. This view goes all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden. When the serpent tempted Eve, he told her that if she would eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil she would be like God. Eve believed this lie which meant that she believed God was holding out on her. She thought there was more that God wasn’t giving her which is a sign she questioned His goodness and love for her. This wrong view of God was the breeding ground in her heart that caused her to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The ironic thing is she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in an effort to become something she already was. She was already like God in the sense that she was made in His image and likeness. Her actions to eat of the tree weren’t going to help her achieve greatness. She was already great. The key to walking in greatness was believing the truth about what God said about her.
The same thing is true about you and me today. God traded the most valuable thing He had, Jesus, in order to obtain a relationship with us. This established our value in His eyes. This means we are GREAT! That’s not just my opinion. That’s an absolute fact because the price God was willing to pay for us established our worth.
After we receive Jesus as Lord and savior, God puts His spirit inside of us to make us brand new. We are remade in His image and likeness. In the spirit, we are just like Him. This means we don’t have try to try be like God; in the spirit we already are. We simply have to believe what His word says about us.
Before I talk about how greatness in the kingdom is defined by serving others, it is important we get a revelation of our identity in Christ. When we don’t, well will try to accomplish big things to become great. Trying to accomplish big things to become great is like chasing a piece of cheese while running on a hamster wheel. We put forth a great amount of effort to chase something that is elusive. The only way to fill the void in our heart for greatness is to simply believe what God says about us. Click on these links if you would like to learn more about how God sees you and who you are in Christ.
Once we establish our worth and value come from Jesus, we can then explore the question about why greatness in God’s kingdom is defined by serving others? Matthew 20:28 says Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve. This means according to Heaven’s value system, greatness comes from making other people’s lives better. Think about it. What is the purpose of servant? A servant’s purpose is to perform duties in order to benefit their master. When you and I realize who we are in Christ, we are freed to serve others and make their lives better. Why? Because we don’t need a title, recognition, or a reward from them in order to motivate us to serve them since we know our inheritance comes from the Lord.
One of the signs that we have really established our identity and significance in Christ is when we can come underneath others in order to make them better with no concern for how we will benefit. The only way we can do this is when we know our significance and inheritance comes from Jesus and not our title, paycheck, or some other form of earthly recognition. I believe this is why Jesus defined greatness as serving others. He redefined the term so He could give us a healthier perspective of what true greatness is all about.
I hope this article has both challenged and inspired you to pursue greatness! It is not a sin to pursue greatness. It is actually wrong to not pursue greatness…..We just have to learn how to pursue greatness on God’s terms. I’m praying the Holy Spirit empowers you to be a blessing to those who come across your path!
If you would like to learn more about the importance of serving others, check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church.