Summary: Being childLIKE instead of childISH.
Greatness and Humility
Part 1: The Advantage of Being “Little”
June 3, 2007
We all like to be looked up to, don’t we? Sure we do. We like recognition for a job well done, we like having titles, position, and status.
I don’t think anyone goes around thinking, “You know what? I think I’m going to go around and do all I can to make sure no one appreciates what I do and never compliments me on doing my job. And I’m going to change my name to “Worm” just to remind myself and others of how unworthy I really am so I don’t get a big head.”
Nah. We like to be looked up to. And I think that that’s part of the fact that we need significance in our lives. That’s the way we’re wired. And as long as we don’t go about it in sinful ways with sinful motives, it’s okay.
Proverbs tells us that we should work in such a way that the quality of our work is noticeable.
Not to gain glory, but to show what a life lived for God can be all about in the workplace.
I’m of the opinion that everyone struggles from time to time with the idea that unless we do something for ourselves in terms of getting recognized or gaining status, then we’ll live the life of the unimportant.
Shuffled and shoved aside, always wondering if anyone will think we’re worth anything.
How about you?
Do you struggle with the idea of being important?
Really, the question is, “WHEN you feel that way, what do you about it?”
And if you’re a believer in Jesus, is your struggle related to the question in our passage today – in other words, you wonder if you are important in the eyes of God?
I’ve shared about my desire early in life to be a big-hair rock star – back when big-hair rock stars were cool. Now have you noticed who the cool rock stars are? The bald ones.
Speaking of hair, listen to this story from Reader’s Digest:
A friend of mine who teaches Bible school had her straight hair permed in to a curly style. One morning she noticed that 4 yr. old Jack, who was usually cheerful, looked sad and bewildered. "Is something wrong, Jack?" Jenny asked him.
"Your hair," he mumbled.
"You noticed!" said Jenny. "I just had a permanent and I love it!"
"You do?" whispered Jack. "Have you seen it?"
(SermonCentral.com. SOURCE: Jeff Strite, Church of Christ at Logansport, IN. Citation: Reader’s Digest January, 1986. p.102.)
Talk about being deflated in a hurry!
Since becoming a pastor, by struggle in this area of “greatness” is along the lines of looking for ways to be recognized in the community as the pastor of this church.
And when considering involvement in some of the activities I get invitations for, I have to ask God to help me decide if taking it is really for my own benefit instead of the benefit of this church and the kingdom of God.
And I’ve had to decline some things because they would feed into the pride that I have to fight just like everyone else.
So how do we combat on one hand a need to know we’re important in some ways, and pride on the other hand?
One answer to that is in our passage for today, as we discuss the issue of childlikeness.
Matthew 18:1-10 (p. 695) –
(Note-taking guide says 9, but reading through 10)
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
7 "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.