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Matthew 18:1-9, Who Is the Greatest? (Ash Wednesday)

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
— Matthew 18:6

NL Daily Devotion for Wednesday, March 6, 2019

by Dr. Kimberly Leetch Clergy Stuff


Main Idea: We do not live as isolated creatures—we were created to live in community, and our thoughts, words, and actions have rippling effects.

The disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps they wanted to know where Jesus ranked among the prophets and saints above. Or maybe they were asking where they would rank, now that they were following the greatest prophet of their day.

Jesus warned them against such thinking. His ultimate goal was not to create followers who would be the greatest of all time. His goal was to create a world where justice, peace, and love brought all people up. Jesus wanted his disciples to practice humility—to recognize that they were no greater than any other, and that exalting themselves might mean harming others.

Jesus knew that the only way to nurture healthy individuals is to nurture healthy relationships. To lower ourselves so that others might be lifted up. Not to behave in a way that got in the way of others’ development, but to behave in a way that supported, nurtured, loved, and elevated others.

Jesus recognized that people do not live isolated (or at least are not meant to). Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that what we do doesn’t have any effect on others. We can do what we want. Say what we want. Think what we want. But the reality is, our actions have profound effects on others. When we behave well, that positivity permeates everything around us. But when we behave poorly, the consequences ripple endlessly.

One of Jesus’ greatest challenges for us is to decide how we want to show up in the world. What kind of person do we want to be? How shall we behave? Aside from addiction, mental illness, and a few other exceptions, we are primarily in control of who we are, how we are, who we love, and how we love. Who do you want to be?

Earlier Event: March 5
Matthew 13:47-53, Sorting the Fishies
Later Event: March 7
Psalm 146:7c-10, Lifting Up