Faithfulness is the path to true greatness!

This world, at the very best, is a shadow of the heavenly realm.

January 16

I assure you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!

Matthew 11:11

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Faithfulness is the path to true greatness!

Today’s text is one that has always fascinated me.  John the Baptist is in prison where he will eventually be beheaded by Herod.  While there, he hears that Jesus is busy doing His ministry.  John sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus if he is really the Messiah or not.  Instead of answering them directly, Jesus tells them to look at the things that He is doing.  In essence Jesus is telling them that by looking at the works of His life they should be able to tell whether or not He is who He says He is.

Once John’s disciples leave to report back to John, Jesus begins to speak to the crowds about John.  He asks them questions about this man that they would travel out into the Judean wilderness to see and be baptized by.  Jesus goes on to say that John was no ordinary man.  John had been ordained by God to be the forerunner of the Messiah.  He goes on to identify John as the promised return of Elijah, whom the Jews expected to precede the Messiah.

Jesus then goes on to say that no one that has ever lived compares to John the Baptist.  A study of John’s life doesn’t really indicate that he was greater than some of the other men of Scripture.  He doesn’t seem to have accomplished any great tasks in his lifetime.  He is not known for any great battles won or enemies overthrown.  On the surface it appears that he was good but not great.  But that was not Jesus’ opinion of John.

Jesus measured John’s greatness based on a standard that we will never fully understand.  It has to do with the gifts that God gave to John and his faithfulness to accomplish the work set before him.  John was faithful to the work that God gave him to do even when it set him against the most powerful and dangerous man in the land, Herod.  John’s greatness was directly related to his faithfulness to God’s will and plan.

That is not what has always struck me about this verse.  It is the second half that always gives me a reason to pause and look closer at my heart.  Jesus went on to say that even though John was the greatest on earth, he was nothing compared to anyone in heaven.  The most insignificant person in heaven is greater than the greatest man on earth.

We put so much emphasis on the greatness of people in this world that we take our eyes off a greater greatness.  Everything in this world is less than similar things in heaven.  This world, at the very best, is a shadow of the heavenly realm.  We expend too much energy in this world aspiring to worldly greatness.  The image I see of this is a two-year-old working on my car.  Their best efforts are unlikely to compare to the mechanic who finished last in his class in auto repair.  We don’t need to focus on being the best or greatest; we need to focus on being faithful only to what God wants us to do.  That is the true path to greatness.  Jesus, help us to be faithful to the work You have assigned to us.

Daily Bible Reading Plan:
Daily Bible Reading: Genesis 32:13-34:31; Matthew 11:7-30; Psalm 14:1-7; Proverbs 3:19-20