Almost everyone clamors after greatness. Whether in sport, business, or academia, voices call to us: Be the best. Gain the most power. Make it to the top. Become famous.

Even Jesus’ disciples jockeyed for position. They argued among themselves about who was the greatest (Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; Luke 22:24. One mom asked Jesus if her sons could rule from Jesus’ right and left hand in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21).

Yet, Jesus calls us to a different way of living; indeed, to a different kingdom.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4). No one enters without the humility of a child. Whoever enters with the humility of a child is the greatest. Jesus’ words — "no one" and "whoever/everyone" — confuse us.

In another place, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).

We resist the simple truth because we still want to rank each other. If the least will be the greatest, does that mean the second least will be the second greatest?

Jesus gently tries to show us that we are asking the wrong question. We want to know who is the greatest, but in reality there is no greatest, other than God.

Our great and awesome God invites us to enter His kingdom; to turn from sin, humble ourselves and depend on Christ alone for salvation. God calls us to stop trying to be the greatest and learn to be the least — to serve, sacrifice, and spend ourselves for God.

Holy God, I don’t want to compare myself to others anymore. I want to live in your kingdom, humbly serving wherever you place me. Amen.

Go Deeper — In the book of Matthew Jesus often speaks about the kingdom of heaven. Click here for the verses.. Make a list of what you discover as you read through them.

Tags: The Lord's Prayer Matthew 18
Photo Credit: Vincent Guth