Links Daily Devotional

True Greatness, Part 7

“…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matthew 11:29, NIV)

What significance do such words have for us today?


Apart from the cross and resurrection, the major thrust of Jesus’ work on earth was the training of the Twelve. Today’s words were among the first things he commanded of his disciples. Learning them would be fundamental to their success.

Bear with me a moment and let’s look at these words more closely. The Greek word for disciple is mathetes, which literally means “a learner.” The verb form used in Matthew 11:29 means “to learn.” Vines Dictionary of Biblical Words states this word means to learn “by inquiry or observation… said of ‘learning’ Christ (Ephesians 4:20), not simply the doctrine of Christ, but Christ himself, a process not merely of getting to know the person but…applying the knowledge.”

What was Jesus doing here in his training of the Twelve?

He was teaching by example. He was not laying out precepts or doctrines of discipleship, but modeling discipleship. He wanted them to learn first to be discipled in character.

Note especially the two character traits he wanted them to see and emulate: gentleness and humility.

I had the pleasure last week of spending some time with Tom Lehman, Bernhard Langer and Larry Mize at the home of Mark and Fran Wagner at the U.S. Senior Open. One evening we were looking at this passage together. Mark said, “You are all humble, gentle men.” I’m not sure Tom, Bernhard and Larry fully received his compliment, but there was no doubt about his sincerity.

It has been great for me to watch these three men grow in humility the past 30 years.

The apostle Peter learned humility, in part by failing Jesus miserably the night before he was betrayed. He would later write, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

There’s never been a greater person, a person of more influence than Jesus of Nazareth. His early disciples, all ordinary people, followed his example and achieved greatness in character through humility.

The question I ask myself is, What can I do to be more gentle and humble like Jesus today?

Jim Hiskey

July 18, 2012

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