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Greatness Redefined

In the Gospel of Mark, the Lord Jesus taught His disciples what following Him really entailed. Surprisingly, even Jesus’ hand-picked twelve apostles struggled to understand this in their early days of following Jesus. Let us embark on a brief journey together to better understand what following Jesus Christ is about.

Jesus predicted three times (in Mark 8:31-33; 9:30-32 and 10:32-34) that He would suffer, be killed and rise again after three days. In all these three passion predictions, Jesus’ closest disciples showed that they did not understand and could not accept that it was necessary for their leader to suffer and be killed. It was completely mind-blowing for them, because they had a misconceived notion that Jesus would stand up for them, fight their enemies and emerge victorious. Having seen Jesus’ power and authority over nature, demons, sicknesses and even death, they certainly did not expect Him to be overcome and killed by those who opposed him.

Jesus’ disciples were not on the same page with Him. While Jesus spoke about serving and giving His life for others, His disciples argued for positions of greatness and power. While Jesus counted the cost of doing His Father’s will, His disciples expected that their following of Jesus would bring them success, significance and recognition. The disciples missed it altogether! Yet, Jesus patiently taught them that the values of God’s Kingdom were opposite to the values of the world. Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first (Mark 10:31). True discipleship is not about serving our self-interest or climbing up the ladder of status and power. Following Jesus is about giving ourselves in humble service to others!

Jesus did not reject one’s desire to be great, but He redefined it according to the values of the Kingdom of God. For a person to be great in the sight of God, one must be a humble servant to others (Mark 9:35; 10:42-44). Jesus’ disciples must follow His example and serve others for their good and for God’s glory. Greatness in God’s eyes is not reserved for the highly gifted, but is attainable by any Christian who is willing to use whatever abilities and resources available to serve others, especially through simple acts of kindness and humble tasks of service to those in society who are insignificant and powerless (a prime example being young children who were considered the least in Jewish society then).

Just as Jesus came to serve by giving His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), we who follow Jesus today must similarly give ourselves in loving, humble service to others, including the last and the least in our society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced many social needs in our nation. There are many opportunities for Christ-followers to serve and be a blessing to others around us. Consider serving and helping those who are poor and marginalised in our society. Low-income families which struggle to meet their living expenses. Disadvantaged young children who are unable to read at the level of their academic age. At-risk children and youths who do not have a healthy family support system and miss out on getting a good basic education. Migrant workers who work long hours for low pay and live in overcrowded conditions.

I dream of a day when many in the general public will say of Christians: “People who follow Jesus Christ are not only concerned about themselves, their families and church activities, but they love others and are committed to do good works in our communities. They help the poor and befriend the marginalised. They have been such a blessing to the people in our nation, even the foreigners in our midst. I think their God is good. I thank their Jesus for their service.”

Written by Pastor Sharon Fong

We encourage you to check out the recommended resources below to learn more about serving the needs of others.

 

SCRIPTURE

Genesis 12:1-3

John 12:24-26

John 15:1-17

Matthew 25:31-40

Romans 12:9-13

Philippians 2:1-11

 

SERMONS

Greatness Redefined”, by Rev Tony Yeo: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/1564

Let’s Serve!”, by Rev Tony Yeo: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/364

Blessing to be a Blessing”, by Rev Tan Kay Kiong: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/483

Serving the City”, by Rev Dr Timothy Keller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ziAJXT7gok

 

OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE

New Life Steady Readers Programme. Reading Intervention for Young Children

Hope Initiative Alliance. Improving the Quality of Life of Marginalised People Globally

SONGS

World Outside Your Window”, cover by Music Collision: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiZM82m02QY

Waves of Revival”, by Andrew Yeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-EBrSerBNE

Making A Difference (Won’t You, Lord)”, by City Harvest Church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrPMxtUeONE

TESTIMONIES

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
Mark 12:28-34; Luke 6:27-36
Fri, 27 May 2022

Live a Righteous Life

Observation:

Why are the two commandments cited by Jesus in verses 29 to 31 so important?

Deeper Reflection
FOR CHRISTIANS, FLOWING FROM OUR RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with God (through faith in Jesus Christ) ought to be right relationships with the people around us. Regarding the latter, the Lord Jesus commanded a radical righteousness that involves loving our neighbours as ourselves and even our enemies (v.31; Lk 6:27, 31 and 35). May God enable us to live righteous lives for His glory!What is the relationship between our vertical relationship with God, our horizontal relationships with other people and the biblical concept of justice? Pastor Timothy Keller explains:56

The Hebrew word for “justice”, mishpat, occurs in its various forms more than 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its most basic meaning is to treat people equitably. It means acquitting or punishing every person on the merits of the case, regardless of race or social status. …But mishpat means more than just the punishment of wrongdoing. It also means giving people their rights. …Mishpat, then, is giving people what they are due, whether punishment or protection or care.

We get more insight when we consider a second Hebrew word that can be translated as “being just”, though it is usually translated as “being righteous”. The word is tzadeqah, and it refers to a life of right relationships…day-to-day living in which a person conducts all relationships in family and society with fairness, generosity and equity. It is not surprising, then, to discover that tzadeqah and mishpat are brought together scores of times in the Bible. …Therefore, though tzadeqah is primarily about being in a right relationship with God, the righteous life that results is profoundly social.


56 Cited by Joe Carter in this article The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About Social Justice. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/faqs-christians-know-social-justice/
Application:

In what ways can I love the people around me as myself (v.31) and do to them what I wish they would do to me (Lk 6:31)? (Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to do so.)

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for SGI leaders: That the Holy Spirit will empower them to love their neighbours as themselves and even their enemies
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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