Raw Ambition

Sam Petitfils

“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 andbecome like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ ”

We learn very early in life how to compete. Parents and teachers tell us to do our best, coaches compel us to perform on the field in order to win, and graduation speakers inspire us to seek greatness. We should not dismiss this counsel, but need to keep it in perspective. We do so by asking two questions: What is greatness and who is greatest?

1) Humility leads to greatness.
At first, this sounds a bit self-centered. “I will humble myself in order to be great.” But Jesus reserves the right to define greatness. He set the pattern for us by shunning the glories of heaven in order to rescue mankind from certain doom (Philippians 2:5-11). Now He is exalted highly and God gave Him a name above every name. Greatness consists in humbly serving God and aiming to please Him in everything we do. Jesus said if we fail to humble ourselves, we couldn’t enter His Kingdom.

2) Humble servants prove their true greatness.
In giving up our pride and self-sufficiency, and admitting our need of a Savior, we prove our greatness. In coming to Christ, we not only surrender our rights to run our lives the way we see fit, but also admit our inability to do it. When we observe the proud and arrogant around us we witness a collapse in the making. The humble child of God recognizes this; whereas the people of this world do not. So greatness consists in humility, and the humble ones who follow Christ end up proving their greatness.

Now this “greatness” does not resemble greatness as popularly defined. The “great” of this world gladly accept the acclaim and spoils that go with greatness, but we need to look around us in order to witness true greatness.

Consider the bright, energetic medical student who gives up a life of wealth and status in order to provide medical care to the less fortunate. Ponder the strong, talented athlete who finds more purpose in helping inner-city youth than hearing the cheers of thousands of fans. What about the newly married couple who exchange the white picket fence in suburbia for a life on the mission field? We could go on and on. Now God doesn’t call everyone to a life on the mission field but He does call us to true greatness. Our greatness consists in serving God and others. Whoever finds his life, will lose it, but whoever loses it for Christ’s sake, finds it.


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