“Whoever would be first among you must be your slave,” (Matthew 20:27). The word “first - prōtos” means “a person who wants a place of prominence or importance”. Jesus put this attitude in contrast to a “slave – doulos” who is “subservient to the authority of another”. This principle is repeated in 23:11.
Imagine twelve disciples spending time in training with Jesus, the lowliest of all men, and “an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest” (Luke 9:46). I remember too well as a young man when we attended “Bible Conferences”. To my shame, there was always a quest to sit on the platform with the “ministering brother” with a microphone available to speak things I really didn’t understand as I should. God has been, and is, chipping away at that pride.
Little do we realize how our culture (even Bible schools and seminaries) foster a ‘self-important’ attitude that nullifies our attempt to present truth. The audience becomes enamored with the speaker and the Word floats off into the air. Jesus warned about the influence of “ruler(s) of the Gentiles [who] lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.” Then He adds, “It shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:25-26, also Mark 10:42-43; Luke 22:25-26).
In public it is easier to ‘appear’ humble, especially when good things are being said about you! The great apostle Paul said in two separate letters, “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9), and “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,” (Ephesians 3:8).
What is your “doulos” factor? Mine needs a lot of improvement. The Spirit of the Humble Jesus will work in us so we become a slave of Christ – if we let Him.
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