‘The Desire for Greatness’


Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

How different those words were to way the religious leaders of Israel often conducted themselves. Scripture teaches us that their actions were anything but displays of humility.

Jesus condemned them for their pride.

Matthew 23:5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ (Great Teacher)

Though the scribes and Pharisees pretended to be serving God, they were actually serving themselves.

The desire to be great is as old as the devil himself. The book of Isaiah teaches us that sin began when Satan tried to overtake the throne of God. Later, when he approached Eve in the Garden, he enticed her with these words – “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5) In other words – “You will be as great as God!” And so the sin of pride has been causing mankind to fall ever since.

In contrast to this Jesus said – “The greatest among you will be your servant.”

If we are wondering how great we are, then we need to examine how much we are willing to serve. The word ‘serve’ as it is found in the Bible means:

  • One who executes the commands of another,
  • To run on errands,
  • A waiter,
  • One who serves food and drink

If someone serves in order to be seen, then their service is not an act of greatness. It is hypocrisy. True spiritual greatness is when we are willing to completely deny ourselves so that we might care for the needs of others.

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