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Luke 9:46-48, an argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”

One of the many attributes about the disciples I love is their humanity. With no disrespect, Jesus must have felt more like a parent than an educating master to these well intended but very human men, at times. Jesus was constantly trying to get through to them the impending death and torture He was about to face. (Luke 9:44) I’m not sure how Jesus could have been clearer than He was. There doesn’t seem to be much difference today with His people. In this case, the disciples were not sure what Jesus was saying, but they were afraid to ask! As if they never heard anything Jesus said, they argued over who would be the greatest.

We might imagine that we are really not much different than those great men. They may have thought their argument was a private matter. The truth is that Jesus was privy to every word and thought, just as He is ours. Jesus knows the internal discussion we maintain about our own preeminence. He understands the attitudes of men and their possibly destructive nature. Society is often motivated by ambition when it should be led by love. At an even higher cost is when these personal elements of pride and arrogance are brought into the Church. The greatest obstacle we face in our spiritual development for God is our own desire to be great.

The road to greatness for Jesus was one of betrayal, rejection, suffering, and death. He was mostly poor though His ministry was supported. He was man of message more than one of dominance. He was a pauper-King in a land where everyone wanted to be the greatest. Philippians 2:6-8 defines Jesus as one saw spiritual success through selfless service, not elevation of Himself. His life was its own resume and its own reward. He lived and sacrificed in a way of power.

Most seem to choose a path to greatness that is radically different from Jesus. Yet, we are encouraged scripturally to NOT grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3) He was our supreme example because He was never a political Savior, was actually our “personal” sacrifice. He was made perfect through suffering {for us}. (Hebrews 2:9-10) He was always sinless. He was always perfect. Jesus was who He was because He was willing to do what no one else could for themselves at His own very great cost. The road to spiritual success can be arduous, even painful. A sign of greatness is knowing the price of the journey and still taking that path for the sake of others. He was a worthy Savior because He saw us as worth it!

If we want to truly be Christians, we will walk the path of humility. It might involve suffering, pain, rejection, betrayal and even death. If not physically, absolutely death to self. For us the question becomes, “Is He worth it to us?” Getting over Self is a mountain for sure. The process is severe and lifelong. It is also a tremendously rewarding effort. If we can get to a point of finding our own “self-centeredness” unbearable, we are on the right path. We need to continually seek God’s guidance and direction in dealing with ourselves. There are many self-oriented issues we might struggle with. We could deal with self-exaltation, self-protection, self-righteousness, self-will, self- loathing, self-worship, self-serving, self-promotion, self-indulgence, self-absorption, self-delusion, self-pity, and self-sufficiency. That’s a lot of self-stuff.

Getting over ourselves is a daily and constant challenge. It seems to be the major effort of the old man of sin to take us back to self-interest. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) While it is not easy, we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. (Luke 9:23) Please focus on what truly matters in this world. I can assure you of one thing – our greatest attributes will not be found in a life lived in front of a mirror, but in a life lived in service to God.