Places of Position

July 9, 2020

Places of Position

Matthew 23:8-12

But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

        Deep down, or not so deep down, in most of us is the desire for recognition, honor and appreciation.  It is a healthy thing that we do honor and appreciate one another.  Beyond that there is the desire to be exalted above others and to have others look up to you.  It was this spirit that I believe Jesus was dealing with in this passage of Matthew 23.  He is speaking to the Rabbis, Teachers and “so-called” spiritual Fathers of the people.  They are characterized and revealed in the haughtiness and importance of their position.  They loved the power they had over the people.  The people feared and respected them.  If you got on their bad side they could excommunicate and damn you to hell, in addition to cutting you off from spiritual fellowship and social acceptance.  These were powerful people and they didn’t take to kindly to people like Jesus that were not intimidated by their social and religious status. 

              Jesus draws from their example to give us an example of what we don’t want to be like.  The greatest power on earth is love and the person that best demonstrates and puts that love into practice is the greatest one in the eyes of God.  That person is characterized by much of what we see in Jesus.  They are a person of compassion, humility, generosity, hospitality, meekness and kindness.  They love and practice righteousness, integrity and faithfulness.  You will recognize them not because they proclaim or exalt themselves to be anything, but because they excel in service and in recognizing and meeting the needs in others.  There last concern is for themselves, it is God and then others that they live for.  They do not seek honor for themselves, but rather always seek to transfer that honor to the Lord who alone is worthy of all glory, honor, dominion and power.   Chances are you won’t see them on a podium, but more likely stooped over in service to someone or some need.  Their vision, their purpose, their reason for living is in giving in all the ways they have a capacity to give. 

              How do we compare to that kind of a standard of greatness?  Is it our ego that we are trying to promote or the kingdom of heaven?   God is looking to our hearts.  He is not judging our outward by what we have and have not.  What are the motives that govern our hearts?  Are we self-serving or selflessly giving?  Most of us can see that we fall very short of these kinds of standards, but it should awaken us to what Christ is looking for in His people.  As we are daily humbling ourselves before Him and seeking His face, let us rise up and carry with us His nature and character in our lives.  The way up is the way down and the most fruitful branches hang the lowest.  May we all be great as demonstrated through our lives of love and service.



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