Pick Me, Pick Me!
Matthew 20:26-28 Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Since we were children, most of us have had an innate desire to be elevated above those around us. Our flesh nature craves recognition for good and despises blame for bad. On the playground, as children, we loved being picked first and bristled at being picked last. As adults, we long to be recognized for being exceptional (even when we are not), while we prefer that our mistakes be overlooked.
It is just our natural inclination to honor self. Our flesh nature is addicted to its own promotion at the expense of others. There are those who are truly humble, not desiring to draw attention to self, but most of us would just like a little recognition for how humble we are.
Jesus taught the opposite of self-promotion but even his disciples struggled with this one. In this passage, two disciples, or rather their mother, came to Jesus asking for honor and recognition. Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom (vs 21). This offended the other ten disciples who bristled at the ridiculous pride of these two. The fault of the two and of the ten was the same though, they were both motivated by pride.
I am so guilty of this. As loathe as I am to admit it, my flesh nature is still very interested in self-promotion. I have had my name in the paper for good deeds and bad. I took much pride in the respectable and felt much embarrassment for the shameful. I love being the center of attention when it is praise-worthy and I want to hide under a rock when the attention is on my misdeeds.
When I have humbled myself to serve the poor and needy, I have felt perverse pride at helping those poor souls. When, in treatment, where I was the one being served, I felt the sting of humility. I did not like being on the other side of the serving line. It was not the morality of the situation that hurt. It was my pride that despised being on the receiving end of a handout.
Jesus said that I need to get over myself if I want to follow him. He said that in his upside-down kingdom, the last are first and the first, last. If I want to truly be his follower, I need not lead men but serve them. If I want to know God and grow his spirit life in me, I need to become as a servant to all.
Jesus, no hypocrite, led by example. Though He was God, He humbled himself to own nothing, live as a pauper and die as a criminal. He chose a life of humility and servanthood when He should have been heralded as a king.
If I want to be his follower, I need to continually deny my desire for self-promotion. As in all things, I need to abandon self and follow Christ.