The Way to Greatness

KEY VERSE: “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” —Matthew 20:27,28

JESUS was great because of his humility, and kindness, and love. He did not need to be “built up” in the minds of the people by form and ceremony. He taught that true greatness is displayed, not in the exercise of power and authority, but in the service that can be rendered, no matter how trivial or menial that service may seem. At times, the physical strain of Jesus’ ministry was so great that he found it necessary to retire for rest, but he never held himself aloof from the people—not even little children when they besought him—in order to enhance an appearance of dignity and greatness.

The childlike qualities of humility, trustfulness and sincerity are absolutely essential if we are to be worthy of reigning with Christ. In these things we must become “as little children” if we are to enter into the glory of the kingdom. (Matt. 18:3) Of course, it is only the mature mind which can properly be a follower of the Master, but, over and above this, such must be childlike in their faith. They must be humble and pure. They must be like Jesus if they are to be joint-heirs with him in his kingdom.

When the mother of James and John asked Jesus that her two sons be granted a place next to him in his kingdom, she was expecting him to organize his government in the immediate future. Of course it is only natural for a mother to want the best for her children. But her request shows how little Jesus’ own disciples understood his mission. Jesus had just explained to them that he was to be crucified, and yet when the rest of the disciples heard what had been requested, they became indignant and began disputing among themselves about their positions in the kingdom.

In this lesson we see how considerate the Master was in understanding and dealing with human frailty. He did not raise his voice or chide them, but simply explained to them a better way to greatness—that of humility and service. We can all profit by the example of Jesus in dealing with the wrongs of others.

The flesh likes to expose the wrong, but often it is not really necessary to do so. If, in a Bible study meeting, for example, we hear a brother or sister make a comment we know to be wrong, it is seldom necessary to speak up and say, “You are wrong!” Even the chairman of the meeting should exercise care in correcting those having the incorrect viewpoint or understanding. It is better to kindly explain the point correctly, without unnecessarily emphasizing the mistaken idea.

Instead of telling the disciples that it was wrong for them to dispute as to which among them would be greatest in the kingdom, Jesus explained that the greatest would be he who would be humble enough to be a servant. This is a heart-searching lesson for all the Lord’s people. To learn and practice it will help to keep us in our proper places before the Lord and in the church. Striving for power and honor has no place among the followers of Christ. How appropriate it is that we accept Jesus’ invitation, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.”

We should thus learn of Jesus with the view of being like him. Jesus freely acknowledged that of himself he could do nothing; that it was only because the Father worked in and through him that he was able to do the works which he had been sent into the world to do. (John 5:19,30) Do we realize that the same thing is true of us? True, we do not have the same outstanding works to do, but do we realize that even the little things assigned to us would be impossible of accomplishment except as the Heavenly Father blesses us with his wisdom and strength?

The old proverb that “actions speak louder than words” is true. The brother who is humble does not need to make a display of humility. He will automatically conduct himself humbly in his associations with the brethren, and any directing of their activities which may be his duty will be done in such a manner that no desire to be greater will be apparent. “All ye are brethren,” Jesus said. We have but the one Master, and how humbly he conducted himself when he was with his disciples, and with what patience, and lovingkindness! Just as Jesus was an example to the flock, so each of his followers should also endeavor to be.

In God’s arrangements, humility is the way to greatness. For Jesus it meant humbly submitting to death on the cross. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.”—Phil. 2:9

Dawn Bible Students Association
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