We all want to be great.
Isn’t greatness something we all long for? We all want to be recognized and celebrated as someone who is worthy and valuable. Many of us made New Year’s resolutions to help us achieve steps toward the purpose of greatness in 2018. I know I did. I made goals and set a plan in action to help me be more intentional with this one life God has given me. I want 2018 to be my best year yet.
I talked about that in my Not Just Another New Year’s Post
I want to be a better version of myself this year. Don’t you?
We want to be better wives and better moms. We aim to be better friends and better at our jobs. We work for better health and better happiness. Those are common goals that many of us are working towards, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be great at hose things.
It is healthy to want to grow. It is good to want to improve.
People have always wanted to be greater, even Jesus’ disciples. Now, they made not have made resolutions, goals, and plans toward the purpose of greatness, as many of us do, but they obviously had the desire to be recognized as worthy and valuable.
This morning, my quiet time had me in Matthew 18. It is a very familiar passage, but today, it resonated with me in a whole new way.
What does Jesus say about being great?
Matthew 18:1-5 ESV “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “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 of heaven.”
Doesn’t that seem upside down?
I’m not sure how you define greatness, but when I conjure a picture of greatness up in my head, it typically doesn’t look like a child. It more closely resembles someone who is successful in this world, like a CEO or a celebrity. However, in Jesus’ upside down economy, things are never defined quite like the the world defines them.
The least is the greatest. The servant is greater than the master. The baby is the King. The rejected is the Messiah. In this passage of scripture, Jesus says that the greatest in Heaven will be like a child.
I’m sorry, what? What does that even mean?
What does greatness look like?
That got me thinking about the characteristics of a child. We know that a child like faith is something the Bible says we are to have. Children also trust, without reservation. They are dependent and rely on their parents to meet their needs. They are obedient and under the authority of their parents. Children do not know it all. They need their parents to teach them and instruct them. They look to their parents for protection, direction, help, and provision. They love their parents and are devoted to them. Children often want to please their parents and desire to be with them.
The more I thought about the characteristics of children, the more I can understand why Jesus says that we need to be like a child if we want to be great in the kingdom of heaven.
What about my resolutions, goals, and plans?
Our resolutions, goals, and plans are good. It is a good thing to want to be great at something. What we might need to do is shift our thinking, just a tad, on what achieving that greatness might look like. We may need to run it through the filter of Matthew 18:1-5.
Do our resolutions require us to trust and depend on God or our own power? Are we obedient to what He has said and what He’s asking us to do? Are we staying under His authority or chasing our own dreams? Are we looking to His word to teach, lead, and guide us? Does our direction in 2018 allow us to love Him, to be devoted to Him, to please Him, and to spend time with Him or does it drag us away from those things?
Don’t freak out!
This doesn’t mean that we drop everything and live in a convent with our Bibles in our hands and our eyes lifted to Heaven 24/7. It does mean that we take the time to consider Jesus in our daily plans and we line up our direction with His. We need to be in His word and talking to Him in prayer. We lean in to what He calls us to instead of running ahead of Him to reach greatness.
We can’t step on the people He loves to elevate ourselves. We can’t bite and scratch and claw our way to greatness. We listen to the little God nudges that tell us to love others, to be kind, to help a friend, to be generous, to be patient, to show grace, to give mercy, and to not always put ourselves first.
Like children, we go to our Father, daily, when we need guidance, help, direction, protection, and provision. We trust. We have faith. We obey. We willingly let Him lead.
That sounds like greatness to me.
If we all look at working towards our resolutions, goals, and plans in that light, that sounds like greatness to me!
I know I need to sit down and praying through my great plans for 2018 and check them against what these verses say. What are your resolutions, goals, and plans for 2018? How can you run them through the filter of Matthew 18:1-5 so that your idea of being great lines up with Jesus’ idea of being great?
Let’s commit to really being great this year.
Love and blessings,