Heavyweight champion Muhammed Ali said, “I am the Greatest”. Michael Jackson proclaimed himself as “The King of Pop.” Fans across the country chant “We’re Number 1!” But beyond sports and entertainment, we all look for an area where we can excel- a place where we can be the “Greatest.”
The same was true of the disciples of Jesus. In Matthew chapter 18 they asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
In his book, Good to Great in God’s Eyes, Chip Ingram described this instance. “Jesus never rebuked them for their longing to be great. He gave them a completely new paradigm about what greatness is, but he didn’t condemn their desire.” I mean, who wants to be Mediocre?
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18: 2-4
What does it mean to humble ourselves like a child? We spend our lives trying to move beyond our childhood. Even if childhood was great, today we now want to be valued on our own merits – by what we have achieved in life.
What does it mean to humble ourselves? Becoming “like a child” undoes everything. A child is powerless and dependent and, according to Jesus, this humble approach in attitude is necessary for those desiring greatness in the Kingdom.
What does humility have to do with forgiveness? Humility is a prerequisite for forgiveness. We must see ourselves accurately to recognize our own need for mercy and grace. Without that kind of humility, it will be impossible to ever be truly “great” in God’s kingdom.