By Louis Smith
Devotional Scripture: Mark 9:30-37
Central Thought: God measures greatness differently than men and women measure greatness.
Who is the greatest singer, songwriter, or musician of all time? One Web site recently posed this question to its audience, and more than 25,000 people responded with over 500 different opinions. It's understandably difficult to decide who is best at something. Everyone has his or her opinion. What some may consider tremendous talent, others may view as less than exciting.
In today's passage, the disciples 'argued with one another about who was the greatest” (Mark 9:34, ESV). In commenting on the discussion, Jesus taught a valuable lesson on true greatness. First, God determines greatness by service, not by status (Mark 9:35). The person who is great in God's eyes achieves that greatness by willingly serving others. A life lived this way mimics Christ, who 'came not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28, ESV). Second, God's measure of greatness may not equal humankind's measure of greatness. We have a tendency, even in the Church, to laud the one who ministers to large numbers or builds the biggest cathedrals. God has a different set of values. Jesus applauded the one who ministers to a child (Mark 9:36, 37). In the time of Jesus' earthly ministry, society put the adult on a pedestal but considered the child to be insignificant.
Whom, then, should we consider 'great” in the Kingdom? The person who willingly serves others and does menial tasks for the glory of God is great. Don't minimize the greatness of an obscure Sunday school teacher in a small church—recognize his or her greatness. Don't look down on the person who is willing to serve the Lord by bringing children to the midweek ministries at your church; instead, applaud the individual for his or her greatness.
Like the people in the Web survey, we may have different ideas and concepts of greatness. But Jesus is crystal clear about what constitutes true greatness. It's not status, but service. It's not the heights to which we attain, but the depths to which we're willing to humble ourselves. It's not the fame and the spotlight, but our willingness to labor in obscure, unseen, uncelebrated places.
Using Christ's criteria for greatness, how would others rate you?
Devotional Prayer: Lord, help me to serve others today in Your love and humility.
Today's Bible Reading: Leviticus 22:17-23:44; Mark 9:30-10:12; Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 10:19