Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 20:26
“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,” – Matthew 20:26
I worked at many different companies in my time prior to retirement. I had places I enjoyed working at and places I very much did not. I distinctly remember a company I went to immediately after my discharge from the Air Force. It was a service bureau in Miami, FL where banks used their computer to process all banking functions. I was working around sixty hours a week, but it was a good job to start my non-Military career. After about two months, my parents wanted to visit me from Washington State. I figured I could spend time with them in my off hours, but I wanted one day to spend with them. So, I asked my supervisor for one day off. He looked at me and said, this is no lie, “This job is more important than your parents, this job is more important than your church, this job is more important than anything else in your life.” I could not believe He said that. However, I responded with, “I’m sorry, but this job is nothing more than a paycheck in my pocket.” I then went back to my chair and turned the newspaper to the want ads, right there in front of him. And by God’s grace, I had a great new job in three weeks.
This is an example of how many companies back in the late 1970s, yes I am that old, treated their employees. If he would have told me in a nicer way, I may not have responded as I did. However, this was in many ways the norm. Jesus tells His disciples that the rulers of the Gentiles were extremely overbearing to those who worked for them. “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.” Matthew 20:25. They were far more arrogant and harsher than my boss, but it was typical back then. Even today there are many bosses who lord over their employees. However, according to our focus verse, this is not the way the leaders of the church are to act.
In the world, if anyone wants to be great in their company, they will take charge and order others around. However, this is the opposite of how leaders in the church should act. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,“ Matthew 20:26, our focus verse. This is understandable, in fact, the work environment today exhibits this tendency. But then He takes it a step farther. “And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;” Matthew 20:27. This goes against the way of the world where leaders lead and workers work. He says that those who want to lead must work with and be willing to work for others. Theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way. “A minister of Christ is not to consider himself a lord over Christ’s flock.” He is not to become a taskmaster, but a co-worker who guides the work while training them how to train others.
We are always looking at Christ as an example of how we are to live our lives, and this idea is not any different. For He completes this teaching with Himself as the example. “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28. In all ways, we are to be like Christ. He did not come to be served by us, He came to serve us, all mankind. To give His life as a means for our salvation. He taught them truth and the ways of God. But He did not expect anything in return but for them to do the same, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.
And this is our calling. To go out and do the same as He called them to do. Not necessarily to send others out, but to go out ourselves. To call the unsaved to Christ, disciple them in this Christian walk, and teach them to make disciples who will call the unsaved to Christ, discipling then in this Christian walk, and then to make disciples themselves. Jesus calls us to humble ourselves and do His work on the earth, giving our lives in service to Him, doing as He desires. Just as He gave His life in service to His Father, doing what He desired.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.