Summary: Being a Christian is about serving for the right reasons.

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August 1, 2004

Morning Worship

Text: Matthew 20:20-28

Subject: Greatness

Title: If We are the Body

When you leave this life and are firmly planted in the ground with a tombstone over you, what will be your legacy? What will be written on your tombstone? Will your epitaph be one about your earthly accomplishments, or one of treasures stored up in heaven? I have to laugh when I think about some of the epitaphs that I have heard about. Dr. James Dobson says of his mother, that she wanted this written on her tombstone, “I told you I was sick.” Did you ever stop to think what you might want written on yours? I thought about, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Many will list their accomplishments on their tombstones as though those accomplishments make a difference any longer. Here are some epitaphs taken off old tombstones around the world.

In the Boot Hill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona...

Here lies Lester Moore

Four slugs from a forty-four

No Les No More.

On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia…

Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102.

The Good Die Young.

In a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery…

Here lies Johnny Yeast.

Pardon me

For not rising.

On a teacher’s tombstone, Elkhart, Indiana...

School is out

Teacher has gone home.

In a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, cemetery…

Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake.

Stepped on the gas

Instead of the brake.

Whether we like it or not each of us will leave behind some sort of epitaph. And we all will endeavor to be remembered for something great. Dr. Dobson’s father has on his stone, “He Prayed”. Others will reflect accomplishments done while on this earth. But I think that the greatest remembrance of a Christian would be, “He Served.”

A.T. Pierson wrote,

Whatever is done for God, without respect of its comparative character as related to other acts, is service, and only that is service. Service is, comprehensively speaking, doing the will of God. He is the object. All is for Him, for His sake, as unto the Lord, not as unto man. Hence, even the humblest act of humblest disciple acquires a certain divine quality by its being done with reference to Him.

The supreme test of service is this: ’For whom am I doing this?’ Much that we call service to Christ is not such at all....If we are doing this for Christ, we shall not care for human reward or even recognition. Our work must again be tested by three propositions: Is it work from God, as given us to do from Him; for God, as finding in Him its secret of power; and with God, as only a part of His work in which we engage as co-workers with Him."

Today as we look at the question of greatness, let us do so in an attempt to understand exactly how Jesus would have us pursue greatness.


A. The World’s Definition of Greatness. Verse 20 begins with the mother of John and James coming to Jesus with her sons asking for something. Mom wants something great for her two boys. What we see is an incomplete understanding of the nature of the Kingdom of God. John and James, and the rest of Israel, are expecting a political kingdom. They want to be a part of it. Isn’t it interesting that often people attain to greatness, but are not willing to achieve it themselves? These two “Sons of Thunder” want to be great in the new kingdom, but they send their mom to ask for them. The world views greatness according to accomplishments. Your worth is directly proportionate to what you can do. Therefore, those who are of lowly estate are not valuable. Those who are physically handicapped are not valuable. Those who are mentally challenged have no value. But the one who can govern, make money, entertain, or lead, they are of great value to society.

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