Humility and Greatness

  • August 12, 2017
Saturday 12

Matthew 20:20-28

What do you want Christ to do for you? That’s essentially the same question Jesus asked the mother of James and John. Before we look down on her for asking Him to give her sons a place of prominence and authority, we must consider what we would ask of Jesus. Would there be any selfishness in our request?

We are born with a self-centered nature, which remains present even after salvation and comes out in a variety of ways. Furthermore, we live in a culture that clamors for greatness and constantly tells us to assert ourselves so we can move up the ladder of success or get what’s rightfully ours. But what Jesus taught about greatness is the exact opposite: Become a servant to others (Mark 9:35).

True greatness is measured not on earth but in eternity. When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, He’ll be looking for humility rather than impressive earthly accomplishments. This doesn’t mean Christians should turn down positions of prominence; rather, we should accept such roles as opportunities to be a steward for Christ and a servant of all.

Humble people understand who they are—and who the Lord is. They recognize Him as the source of their life and every possession and ability they have. Their assignment while on earth is to use whatever He has entrusted to them, whether great or small, in a way that glorifies Him and benefits others. Though it’s doubtful anyone will praise us for our humility in this life, we must remember that the reward of a true servant comes only in eternity.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 12-14

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20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.

21 And He said to her, What do you wish?" She said to Him, Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left."

22 But Jesus answered, You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, We are able."

23 He said to them, My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father."

24 And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers.

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.

26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,

27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;

28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

1 Righteous are You, O LORD, that I would plead my case with You; Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?

2 You have planted them, they have also taken root; They grow, they have even produced fruit. You are near to their lips But far from their mind.

3 But You know me, O LORD; You see me; And You examine my heart's attitude toward You. Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter And set them apart for a day of carnage!

4 How long is the land to mourn And the vegetation of the countryside to wither? For the wickedness of those who dwell in it, Animals and birds have been snatched away, Because men have said, He will not see our latter ending."

5 If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?

6 For even your brothers and the household of your father, Even they have dealt treacherously with you, Even they have cried aloud after you. Do not believe them, although they may say nice things to you."

7 I have forsaken My house, I have abandoned My inheritance; I have given the beloved of My soul Into the hand of her enemies.

8 My inheritance has become to Me Like a lion in the forest; She has roared against Me; Therefore I have come to hate her.

9 Is My inheritance like a speckled bird of prey to Me? Are the birds of prey against her on every side? Go, gather all the beasts of the field, Bring them to devour!

10 Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard, They have trampled down My field; They have made My pleasant field A desolate wilderness.

11 It has been made a desolation, Desolate, it mourns before Me; The whole land has been made desolate, Because no man lays it to heart.

12 On all the bare heights in the wilderness Destroyers have come, For a sword of the LORD is devouring From one end of the land even to the other; There is no peace for anyone.

13 They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns, They have strained themselves to no profit. But be ashamed of your harvest Because of the fierce anger of the LORD."

14 Thus says the LORD concerning all My wicked neighbors who strike at the inheritance with which I have endowed My people Israel, Behold I am about to uproot them from their land and will uproot the house of Judah from among them.

15 And it will come about that after I have uprooted them, I will again have compassion on them; and I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land.

16 Then if they will really learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, `As the LORD lives,' even as they taught My people to swear by Baal, they will be built up in the midst of My people.

17 But if they will not listen, then I will uproot that nation, uproot and destroy it," declares the LORD.

1 Thus the LORD said to me, Go and buy yourself a linen waistband and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water."

2 So I bought the waistband in accordance with the word of the LORD and put it around my waist.

3 Then the word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying,

4 Take the waistband that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a crevice of the rock."

5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD had commanded me.

6 After many days the LORD said to me, Arise, go to the Euphrates and take from there the waistband which I commanded you to hide there."

7 Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the waistband from the place where I had hidden it; and lo, the waistband was ruined, it was totally worthless.

8 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

9 Thus says the LORD, `Just so will I destroy the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.

10 This wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts and have gone after other gods to serve them and to bow down to them, let them be just like this waistband which is totally worthless.

11 For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,' declares the LORD, `that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.'

12 Therefore you are to speak this word to them, `Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, Every jug is to be filled with wine."' And when they say to you, `Do we not very well know that every jug is to be filled with wine?'

13 then say to them, `Thus says the LORD, Behold I am about to fill all the inhabitants of this land--the kings that sit for David on his throne, the priests, the prophets and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem--with drunkenness!

14 I will dash them against each other, both the fathers and the sons together," declares the LORD. I will not show pity nor be sorry nor have compassion so as not to destroy them."'"

15 Listen and give heed, do not be haughty, For the LORD has spoken.

16 Give glory to the LORD your God, Before He brings darkness And before your feet stumble On the dusky mountains, And while you are hoping for light He makes it into deep darkness, And turns it into gloom.

17 But if you will not listen to it, My soul will sob in secret for such pride; And my eyes will bitterly weep And flow down with tears, Because the flock of the LORD has been taken captive.

18 Say to the king and the queen mother, Take a lowly seat, For your beautiful crown Has come down from your head."

19 The cities of the Negev have been locked up, And there is no one to open them; All Judah has been carried into exile, Wholly carried into exile.

20 Lift up your eyes and see Those coming from the north. Where is the flock that was given you, Your beautiful sheep?

21 What will you say when He appoints over you-- And you yourself had taught them-- Former companions to be head over you? Will not pangs take hold of you Like a woman in childbirth?

22 If you say in your heart, `Why have these things happened to me?' Because of the magnitude of your iniquity Your skirts have been removed And your heels have been exposed.

23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil.

24 Therefore I will scatter them like drifting straw To the desert wind.

25 This is your lot, the portion measured to you From Me," declares the LORD, Because you have forgotten Me And trusted in falsehood.

26 So I Myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, That your shame may be seen.

27 As for your adulteries and your lustful neighings, The lewdness of your prostitution On the hills in the field, I have seen your abominations. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you remain unclean?"

1 That which came as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah in regard to the drought:

2 Judah mourns And her gates languish; They sit on the ground in mourning, And the cry of Jerusalem has ascended.

3 Their nobles have sent their servants for water; They have come to the cisterns and found no water. They have returned with their vessels empty; They have been put to shame and humiliated, And they cover their heads.

4 Because the ground is cracked, For there has been no rain on the land; The farmers have been put to shame, They have covered their heads.

5 For even the doe in the field has given birth only to abandon her young, Because there is no grass.

6 The wild donkeys stand on the bare heights; They pant for air like jackals, Their eyes fail For there is no vegetation.

7 Although our iniquities testify against us, O LORD, act for Your name's sake! Truly our apostasies have been many, We have sinned against You.

8 O Hope of Israel, Its Savior in time of distress, Why are You like a stranger in the land Or like a traveler who has pitched his tent for the night?

9 Why are You like a man dismayed, Like a mighty man who cannot save? Yet You are in our midst, O LORD, And we are called by Your name; Do not forsake us!"

10 Thus says the LORD to this people, Even so they have loved to wander; they have not kept their feet in check. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; now He will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account."

11 So the LORD said to me, Do not pray for the welfare of this people.

12 When they fast, I am not going to listen to their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I am not going to accept them. Rather I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence."

13 But, Ah, Lord GOD!" I said, Look, the prophets are telling them, `You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I will give you lasting peace in this place.'"

14 Then the LORD said to me, The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.

15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who are prophesying in My name, although it was not I who sent them--yet they keep saying, `There will be no sword or famine in this land'--by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end!

16 The people also to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and there will be no one to bury them-- neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters--for I will pour out their own wickedness on them.

17 You will say this word to them, `Let my eyes flow down with tears night and day, And let them not cease; For the virgin daughter of my people has been crushed with a mighty blow, With a sorely infected wound.

18 If I go out to the country, Behold, those slain with the sword! Or if I enter the city, Behold, diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest Have gone roving about in the land that they do not know.'"

19 Have You completely rejected Judah? Or have You loathed Zion? Why have You stricken us so that we are beyond healing? We waited for peace, but nothing good came; And for a time of healing, but behold, terror!

20 We know our wickedness, O LORD, The iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You.

21 Do not despise us, for Your own name's sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory; Remember and do not annul Your covenant with us.

22 Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O LORD our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.

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Publish Date October 20, 2017
From Failure to Restoration

Our mistakes do not deter God's purpose for us in His kingdom.

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