In this world people strive to be the best. To be faster, bigger, stronger, more powerful, richer or more famous than others. It is commonly heard that you have to “sing your own praises” or “blow your own trumpet” because no-one else will.
In this world there are processes and training to enable a person to self-promote. And self-promotion is seen in the world as a good thing because it enables a person to get their head above the crowd and be seen.
But in the Lord and as a Christian, self promotion and self aggrandisement is not the way to go. These things rely upon pride and sometimes arrogance, but in the Lord we are called to humility and obedience to God. Unlike life in this world, God sees us as we are and he knows each one of us individually. So we do not need to promote ourselves to be seen for he knows our hearts and our thoughts.
In this section of scripture the disciples had been discussing and arguing amongst themselves as to who among them was the greatest. This is worldly thinking and is the way men in this world think. Jesus was about to teach them the correct way a Christian should think.
In the world people strive to be the top dog. In business it might be the CEO, in sport it might be to win the championship, in financial matters it might be to top the Forbes or BRW “Richest 100 People.” The epitome of this thinking was personified in the boxer, Muhammad Ali who claimed, “I am the greatest.” For many years he was the greatest boxer in the world, but like all people when he had gone past his prime someone better came along and he lost his world number one ranking. Yet even Ali eventually learned the Lord’s way for he is quoted as saying, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
This is the same principle that Jesus was teaching his disciples. Jesus told them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Verse 35) To be the greatest in the Lord is to be the servant of all. Christians as they progress in the Lord are called to serve and not to be served. This is the exact opposite of the way this world thinks, for in the world people desire to be masters rather than servants.
Jesus again showed the disciples the type of humility required of a Christian. He took a child in the midst of them and taking the child in his arms he said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” In children there is a humility that gets lost as they grow older. But Jesus said that in having humility like a child we become truly great in the Lord’s kingdom. In the end that is all that matters, for this world as we know it will pass away, but God’s kingdom is eternal.
(Image sourced from Svilen Milev http://efffective.com