40 Days with Jesus – October 28th – Luke 9:46-48
Every Sunday I got to church an hour early. Every week I set up tables, chairs, and materials for small group leaders to use. Volunteers were lined up to help me, but often they would show up late, if at all. It was frustrating, to say the least. One early Sunday morning in particular I looked at my watch as I worked and noted that the volunteers were 10 minutes late – must be nice to sleep in. Then they were 30 minutes late – they’re such bums. Then 45 minutes – I kept thinking to myself that no one else was as dedicated or dependable as me. Finally, AN HOUR LATER, the first volunteer nonchalantly walked in. I was furious, but obviously I couldn’t lash out at the person directly (I’m a minister, I don’t get angry, right? :-). So I asked, “Hey, running a little late this morning?” I was waiting for the justification. “Haha – for once I’m actually on time!” I stood in stunned silence for a few seconds trying to understand what was happening here. I then realized that it was Daylight Savings Time and I had forgotten to change my clock at home and my watch. I was at church 2 hours early! Immediately I began psychologically beating myself up for overestimating my own dedication and worth compared to these volunteers that were getting up early to serve. I realized what an idiot I was for being so self-absorbed and judgmental. My first instinct was to assume that everyone else was a slacker and I was above reproach. All the evidence, in my mind, pointed to that indisputable truth. Until it didn’t.
An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all–he is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48 (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but I’m a little uncomfortable with how often I’m more like the disciples than the little child. My insecurities get the best of me and I choose to compare myself with other people around me. The problem is, it’s a lose-lose situation. Either I feel like I’m better than someone else and get prideful or I feel like they’re so much better than me and I get discouraged. I tend to assume the worst about other people based on what I don’t know about them. On the other hand, I think the best of myself in spite of all the rotten things I do know about myself.
Jesus is basically saying, “You’ve got it all backwards! Stop jockeying for position with “great” people – be like Me and identify yourself with “insignificant” people. How can you look up to me when you’re so busy looking down on the people around you?”
Jesus himself pointed to John the Baptist as an example of greatness. When the crowd’s attention was focused on John, he pointed past himself to Jesus. You can be bold and humble…you can be loud and humble…you just can’t be focused on yourself and humble.
Thinking about how wonderful and dedicated we are isn’t the way to greatness. Comparing ourselves to other people isn’t the way to greatness. The way to greatness is by humbly pointing to Christ while serving people. Humble or humiliated: we get to choose.
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