Wednesday, January 16, 2008


In Matthew 18, the disciples revealed their defect. Being spiritually shallow, they asked, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" With gentleness, Jesus gives the answer in a series of points throughout the chapter. And what Jesus says is vitally important to us all because many continue to seek things like personal greatness, aggrandizement, respect, and acknowledgement from others. Many need to be praised. And when they don't get it, because they feel slighted and wronged, they quit and accuse others of sin. This is the problem with the attitude of the disciples who asked this question. Their inflated sense of self will hurt the church, and not help it. Such people need to be stroked and patted on the back because they have not grasped the message of a King who washes feet.

In Matthew 18, Jesus taught the disciples to think less of themselves. Not in a classic martyrdom way, crying "woe is me". But it is only by caring more about others that we can truly be great in the Kingdom of God. Summarizing the chapter, the greatest are meek and humble like a child (2-6). The greatest work harder on personal holiness - metaphorically, a willingness to cut off a foot or gouge out an eye - so as not to cause others to stumble (7-11). The greatest in the Kingdom sacrifice time and resources to search for others who are straying from the flock. They care about others and bring them back into the fold (12-21). And the greatest in the Kingdom, when they have been sinned against, and have suffered slights and damages from others, do not hold grudges and stay bitter. When the straying Brother repents, the truly great are humbled to the soul and cannot hold back forgiveness. Truly great disciples live to welcome straying sheep back into the church.

Disciples with little faith do not care so much about God's sheep. In the last year we studied the topic of forgiveness. The truly great are able to forgive and heal relationships. Those who think like Christ have too much concern for others to let petty things hinder them from service in the Kingdom. These type are not easily shaken or damaged when others fail to see their worth. Because they think less of themselves, they do not divert their gaze from the example of Jesus Christ. They remain stedfast and mission-minded to save souls and build the Kingdom. They willingly sacrifice their time, money, and their self-esteem and self-worth for the good of others.

Those who understand and fully appreciate Jesus' teaching cannot walk away. Those that think too much of themselves always walk away. Lord, may I be the man you desire every disciple to be.
Sin of commission and omission

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