Jesus teaches the value of servanthood and humility in the kingdom of God. Our mission is not to make a name for ourselves or to seek personal recognition for our achievements. Rather our mission is to follow God’s leading so that the activities of our lives have eternal significance.
After the disciples’ first big missionary adventure ends, they seek out Jesus to share their enthusiasm. They have given willingly of their time to share the good news with any who would listen. They have followed Jesus’ instructions. As a result, they have brought hope, healing, and restoration to many. They have seen those possessed by demons cured. Coming home, they are riding a high and seem to want Jesus to offer a pat on the back. Much to their surprise, Jesus does not praise them. Jesus reminds them of the great things he has done. For Jesus knows the disciples are in danger of confusing the power of the gospel with their own personal power. He reminds them again that their gifts for ministry come from God, the Almighty One, who deserves all the praise and honor.
Like the first disciples, we can confuse our ministry successes with our own strength. Quicker than we might realize, we draw attention to ourselves. We seek closeness with those in positions of influence so that our accomplishments shine brighter; all the while we forget the One who gave us the gifts to be of service in the first place. As an alternative, Jesus invites us to stick close to our relationship with God and to listen only for God’s voice. For as we draw closer to God, Jesus says, we remain grounded in the eternal.
Jesus, thank you for your invitation today to invest our lives in that which lasts forever. Keep us this day from the distractions of pride so that we can hear you clearly. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures describe what can happen when our own strength fails us. Naaman is a great military commander from Syria, but he has no power to heal himself. The psalmist, traditionally David, has become too comfortable in his prosperity. Both men must humble themselves before they can experience healing and restoration from God. How often do we let our pride stand in the way of our healing? Paul admonishes his readers to carry themselves with humility and to build up one another. What they do will always come back to them; what we sow, we reap. The story in Luke warns against being proud even of the gifts that God gives us. Our greatest joy is not that we can do things for God but that God already has accepted us.
Read 2 Kings 5:1-14. When have God’s instructions been more involved than you expected? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 30. How can you continue to praise God during the dark, lonely, and hopeless times?
Read Galatians 6:1-16. When has your faith community struggled with members’ lack of humility? How did you resolve the situation so that you could welcome and nurture new Christians?
Read Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. When have you misconstrued God’s accomplishments as your own successes? How did you refocus your life or ministry on serving God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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