Rankings. They permeate the sports world. I hardly ever turn on Sportscenter without seeing some type of ranking: the top 10 quarterbacks; the top 10 plays of the day; the top teams in the standings. Everybody wants to be the best. We’re programmed from the time we’re toddlers all the way through adulthood to be the very best at whatever we do. Winners win and losers…..lose. I teach my children the same thing quoting numerous Scriptures that tell us to give God our best in all we do (Eccl. 9:10; 1 Cor. 9:24; & 10:31; Col. 3:23). I often tell my boys that second place is the first loser (Bekah hates that saying). And indeed we should strive to be and do the very best in whatever our hand finds to do so long as we have a proper heart attitude and our primary motive is to bring God glory whether through victory or defeat.
But what if I told you in order to be first you had to be last? What if I told you that in order to be the best, you would have to take the back seat to everyone else? That’s contrary to everything we just talked about and personally it goes completely against every fiber of my being. I am naturally a very competitive person; it’s where my boys get it from and hence why everything turns in to some kind of competition (Bet you’ve never had a competition to see who can blow their nose the loudest or burp the longest or go to the bathroom the quickest, but another discussion for another day). If you’re anything like me, you want to be first in everything. No waiting in line, no patience for the slow driver, no tolerance for a long check out at the store; get me to the front and let’s get going. We have life to live.
And that goes completely contrary to what/who Jesus said is considered the greatest in God’s eyes. In Mark 10:35-45 James and John (aka the boys of thunder; see Mark 3:17)asked Jesus a huge favor that most likely was spawned earlier in Mark 9:33-37 when all the disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest in heaven. They just didn’t get it; so Jesus did what He always did/does for His children who are having a difficult time grasping a certain concept: He gave Himself as the perfect example. In 10:45 Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” One of our devotionals says “Christ did not come to earth as a king to be served, but instead He came to serve us in a way that no one else could. He lived a life we could not live and died the death we deserved to die as our substitutionary sacrifice. Christ modeled perfect service during His earthly ministry by humbling Himself to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:8). Simplistic to understand, but so difficult for us to live out. If you want to be great, then serve. Every day, every hour, every minute, every person, every situation…..serve.
So, where do you rank in God’s eternal, perfect view of greatness?