ODJ: winning at life

September 29, 2015 

READ: Matthew 20:1-28 

Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave (vv.26-27).

Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” That quote from author Francis Chan points out the false view we can possess as we consider what success is all about. Is it found in what we own, what we’ve accomplished or in our status? Is that really how we know that we’re winning in life? What if we’re playing the wrong game?

Jesus had just told a parable about vineyard workers that ended with the punch line, “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” (v.16). He had taken the disciples aside and told them He was going to Jerusalem to be mocked, flogged and crucified (vv.17-19). But, sadly, all James and John could think about was themselves. And not only did they selfishly pursue prominence, their mother joined in as well. She “knelt respectfully” before Jesus and asked if her sons could sit on either side of Him in the kingdom (vv.20-21). The other disciples “were indignant” when they heard her request (v.24). How dare James and John aim for the highest seats! Who do they think they are?

Jesus heard their murmurs and called the disciples together. “The rulers in this world lord it over their people,” He said. “Officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different” (vv.25-26). Jesus came to serve rather than to be served, so the greatest in the kingdom will also humbly serve others (vv.26-28).

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Matthew 28:8-15

Read Philippians 2:3-11 to learn why the way up is down. 
Where do you feel you’re not getting as much credit as you deserve? How can you reconsider the problem by thinking about whom you can serve?