Matthew 18:1-2, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.” (NIV)
Humility – a poignant admission of shortcomings. An acknowledgment of God’s superiority and worth. Humility should be a constant state for Christians. We should all be cognizant of our faults, but equally aware of God’s abundant grace. Humility comes from brokenness. It is a pride-pruning process that it is often met with a great deal of resistance.
At times, Jesus’ disciples capitulated to selfish ambitions. They struggled with letting humility, rather than pride, fill their hearts. They were obviously enamored with Jesus’ power and influence. They contemplated greatness, so-much-so that they posed an egotistical question to Jesus in Matthew 18:1: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” On the surface it may sound like an innocent inquiry, but Jesus’ response indicated otherwise. He boldly stated, “Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (18:3). What a crushing caution this must have been to the ears of the disciples. They were already convinced that they had earned admission to eternity. Now it was just a matter of determining which disciple would get a seat next to Jesus’ throne. Jesus leveled them with the truth. Heaven is not about man’s greatness; it is about God’s greatness. Heaven is not about man’s glory; it is about God’s glory.
The disciples turned their calling into a spiritual competition. They wanted to know what the highest human accomplishment was so that they could attempt to surpass it. Their motivation was self-advancement, not kingdom-advancement. They let their hearts become conceited. A conceited heart never allows one to be content with an unassuming stature. It drives one to be in the spotlight. It drives one to seek personal acclaim, fame, and recognition.
Jesus likened entering heaven to becoming a child – not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. The correlation is fascinating. Children are wholly dependent on someone else to care for them and provide for them. A child’s life is lived under the roof, protection, and watchful eye of parents, or guardians. In that context, mankind can boast of nothing, except God. We need the Lord’s resources, and blessings. This truth should daily compel us to praise the greatness of God. Modestly. Joyfully. Humbly.*
Kevin Orr (10/13/2018)
*Portions of this blog post is extracted from portions of my self-published, now discontinued, book titled “Love Has Come: A Twenty-Eight Day Journey Through The Gospel Of Matthew”, which was originally published in 2010 (Pleasant Word, a division of WinePress Group)