Links Daily Devotional

True Greatness, Part 1

At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest…?” (Matthew 18:1, ESV)

If you could live your life over and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you want to be and do?

Please pause just a minute.

Now ask yourself, What would I really like to be or do if I could live my life over again?

Maybe you’ve dreamed of becoming the greatest in the world at something.

Maybe at golf.

Most likely, some of the greatest golf players in the world had such dreams. Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Patty Berg, Betsy King, Lorena Ochoa, Jack Nicklaus, or Tiger Woods all became the greatest player in golf at least one time in their lives.

No one questions their greatness.

So, if you had to live your life over and achieve such greatness, would that fulfill your dream?

I wonder how the words of Jesus above impacted those early followers of his. It seems they were jockeying for the key appointments in the kingdom they believed Jesus was going to bring to Israel. James may have thought he’d make a great Prime Minister, John, his brother an able Secretary of Defense.

Jesus had another take on “greatness.”

Listens to their complete question: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

“Truly, I say to you,” Jesus says, “unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Today we know Jesus was speaking about a heavenly kingdom. But at the time they thought it would be an earthly kingdom like that of King David. Picture yourself there with the disciples. Jesus beckons to a child in the crowd who’s looking at him. “Come up close,” he says.

In Luke 9, we find that Jesus took the child and had him stand by his side. Can you see yourself standing there beside at least a dozen young men, and possibly some women? You are bunched together close enough to hear what Jesus is about to say.

A child half your size stands in your midst.

“Truly, I say to you,” Jesus says, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” How would you react to these words? I think I’d feel bewildered. I’d be thinking, What in the world is Jesus saying?

Now looking back, I can see that herein lies true greatness.

What is it about the child that Jesus wants us to see? It can’t be childish selfishness. One quality must be dependence. A quality pride rejects. I now have a great grandson, Landon James. He’s one year old, an unending jabberer. Blond hair, big smile, bellows in laughter when tossed in the air, and explores everything, everywhere. Sorry for my prejudice, but he’s the cutest guy in the world.

Landon is totally dependent on his mother. And Rebekah, his mother, is totally loyal to him. She cares for him night and day. He lacks nothing. Acts like he’s a king. He lives his life totally in the present, never a thought about tomorrow. He eats, he sleeps, he plays. I tell him he’s the greatest and I think he understands, though he can’t speak English yet. I tell him I want to be like him.

That’s right. If I could live my life over, and know what I know now, I would want to be like Landon James. To live in childlike dependence upon my Father every minute. And live in trust and obedience, not concerning myself with the cares of this life.

How about you? Would you like to be more like a child? Jesus wants us to learn this is the path of true greatness.

You can move into a path of true greatness this coming year. You don’t have to be a Jack Nicklaus. It begins with one step. A downward one. You can pray, along with me, “Father, I humble myself before you. I admit I am dependent upon you for even the breath I breathe. Help me to take on more of the qualities of a little child that are pleasing to you.”

Jim Hiskey

January 19, 2012

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