“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
‘Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?'”
Matthew 18:1 NLT
Chapter 18 of the Gospel of Matthew opens with the disciples all wanting to know who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. If I’m being honest, I’d have asked the same thing if I was one of them. Who out there wouldn’t?! Doesn’t a tiny part of each of us want to be the greatest? Most loved? Most unique? Most important? Most influential?
Jesus answers that question right away in the next couple verses, but he also gives us a much more complete description of greatness if you read the entire chapter. (It only takes about 15 minutes to read through and is TOTALLY worth it!!) Until then, here’s my synopsis which gives you five action points to be in the “top 5%” of Eternity. 🙂
- Have Childlike Humility. “Therefore, anyone who becomes humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (18:4 NLT) My Bible’s study notes define this perfectly: “The humility of a child consists of childlike trust, vulnerability, and the inability to advance his or her own cause apart from the help, direction, and resources of a parent.” (ESV Study Bible, pg. 1858)
- Throw It Away. “And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better to enter heaven half blind than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” (18:9 NLT) When we’re being really honest with ourselves, we know what teases and tempts each of us uniquely to make bad choices: maybe it’s a book, a movie, a person, a place; it could be anything. Jesus said to cut it off and throw it away – destroy any access to it. It’s only going to lead you to temporary “gains” that come back to bite you in the butt later.
- Cherish Your Faith Family. “Beware that you don’t despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” (18:10 NLT) Jesus is calling his childlike disciples (believers) “these little ones”. He’s reminding us to love our Christian brothers and sisters even though it’s easier to point out hypocrisy. If he’s commanded his angels to serve each believer, how much more so should we serve each other?
- Pray WITH Others and IN Him. “For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them.” (18:20 NLT) When we gather in small groups together with HIS purpose and HIS will as the goal, His wisdom and his power will be a part of the prayer and conversation. Make it a priority to pray regularly with one or two trusted friends, letting God’s promises direct the conversation.
- Forgive. “Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No!’ Jesus replied, ‘Seventy times seven!’” (18:21-22 NLT) Withholding forgiveness breaks us. It really does. It turns us each into the worst possible version of ourselves. Jesus forgave unthinkable debts of sin when he died to forgive each of us. Who are we to limit the death of our own pride as we forgive each other?
Dear Lord, I SO needed to hear this today. I needed this reminder that YOU define greatness and the first step towards it is studying YOUR SON. Thank you for giving us five more reasons to love you and five more ways to love each other. Your perspective on life gives me so much peace. Amen.
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