“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:4
In Matthew 18 the disciples come to Jesus with a question “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom?” (Matthew 18:1). The heart of the question for them was really “How great will I be? What will be my rank relative to the other disciples?”. The disciples wanted assured they were going to get the positions of greatness in the kingdom. It is a trap we so easily fall into. We desire position. We aspire to be seen as great. We want the fame and acclaim that comes with greatness. We want to be at the centre of it all.
Jesus shows them what greatness looks like in the Kingdom. He brings over a child and says to the disciples “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom” Matthew 18:3-4. In the upside down Kingdom the way to greatness is to humble yourself. The way to be the greatest tis to humble yourself like a child. In first century Jerusalem children were not highly valued. But that is who Jesus holds up as the way to greatness. In the way of the Kingdom the least become the greatest.
When we fully grasp that truth it turns things upside down. When we realise that we do not achieve greatness by seeking the top positions for ourselves but by humbling ourselves, becoming the least and doing the lowly tasks that everyone else avoids. Like washing feet. We don’t become great in the worldly dog-eat-dog manner where we trample over others in a rush to the top. Kingdom greatness is found in humbly getting stuck in, quietly doing the Kingdom work without seeking great fanfare and being prepared to get our hands dirty for the sake of the Kingdom.
Worldly greatness is tiring. You have to struggle and fight your way to the top, and then when you get there you are constantly afraid of losing your position to someone else so you can never have rest and peace. But in the Kingdom we can have security that if we humble ourselves like a child then our greatness is secure.
True Kingdom greatness is not about making it to the top to be praised and served by others. Kingdom greatness is about seeking to love and serve others, even the least and the unloved, for that is what makes us great. That is what will leave a legacy that will remain long after any memory of our earthly positions of ‘greatness’ are forgotten.
Don’t seek position for the sake of being seen as the top dog. Seek to serve and do so with humility, with all your heart, giving Jesus your all and not thinking you are above doing anything for the Kingdom. Take as your example Jesus, who, in the ultimate act of love humbled Himself, left the throne and came to the earth He created, being born in a stable and dying a sinner’s death on a tree to open the gate of the Kingdom for us all.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” Philippians 2:3
- Are you seeking earthly or Kingdom greatness?
- What can you do to move from the dog-eat-dog pursuit of power to a Kingdom mindset of humility?
- Which of the least and unloved could you serve today?