Question: How are honor and success achieved in God’s kingdom?
The Story (Mark 10:35-45)
Two of Jesus’ disciples came to him privately with a request: “Give us the positions of highest power and honor in God’s kingdom when you have established it over all the nations.”
“You don’t know what you are asking for,” Jesus told them. When the other disciples heard about the request, they became angry.
Jesus called all his disciples together. He said, “You know about those who rule the nations. They hold power over their people. Their high officials command others to serve them. Don’t be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be important in God’s kingdom must become a servant of others. And anyone who wants the position of highest honor must serve others with the most humility. God did not send me to the world to be served. Instead, I am initiating God’s kingdom by serving others. My task is to give my life on behalf of the human family to end its separation from God.”
God’s kingdom turns the world’s ladder of success upside down. In the world’s social order, success and importance are obtained by climbing the ladder of social, economic and political power. In God’s kingdom, success and importance are obtained by reaching down to serve those who are on the lower rungs of the ladder. Society honors those who obtain power and are served by others. God honors those who use their talents and resources to serve others, especially the disadvantaged. Climbing society’s ladder of success often requires competition for advancement that results in winners and losers. Success in God’s kingdom requires loving others by practicing the Principle of Social Harmony: “Treat others as you want others to treat you.”
We usually begin adulthood with goals to achieve a distinguished reputation, admiration and high respect from others by climbing the ladder of success that brings wealth, fame, influence and power. Serving those who cannot benefit us does not typically lead to high social status. It is difficult to gain prestige and power without making serving ourselves a high priority.
In contrast, Jesus taught us that when we serve those who have nothing to offer us in return, we receive honor and reward from God and high status in God’s kingdom. Jesus set the example for us by serving needy people throughout his career. Moreover, Jesus served the entire human family by his sacrificial death on the cross, which removed all barriers to beginning a relationship with God.
Respond by Growing
How can you be a servant this week? Who is in your life that has a need you can do something about? What are your priorities in life: to serve others or to advance your career and financial status above all else? Are you seeking honor from God or recognition from society for accomplishments that the world values and rewards more than God does?
Dear heavenly father, I want to strive to receive honor and approval from you above all else. Help me to become humble and willing to be a servant.