Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Greatest in Heaven

The Greatest in Heaven
April 28, 2008

Matt 18:4 Jesus said, "Whoever will humble himself and become like the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

After getting my MBA in Finance, I worked for the largest private bank in the world, managing investment portfolios and having lunch with millionaires everday. We lived on the East Coast only a few blocks from the beach and life was good. Through a strange twist of fate a few years later, I found myself jobless and needing to support my wife and two children (with a third on the way). I took the only job I could find at the time, working construction. One day, I ended up working on a brand new hospital; the task at hand for me was to take out the trash. The place was dusty, dirty, and dark inside and my clothes reflected the look and feel of the jobsite. I had collected enough trash to fill my cart and pushed it to the service elevator in order to take it to the dumpster.

In line at the service elevator two gentlemen were talking; one older and one much younger. The younger mentioned how tired he was from studying during the previous night for his college course. The older advised him to stay with it, to hang in there, and that it would pay off for him in the long run. He continued in his discourse to the young man and noticed me out of the corner of his eye. I had been listening in, as I had a passion for higher education and was hoping that my higher education would have also paid off. How ironic of a place I was in; my education afforded me the knowledge and ability to be on the hospital’s administration staff but instead I was picking up the refuse on the construction site. The older man noticed me listening in and said to the younger, “Stay in school; that’s your ticket; you don’t want to end up like this common laborer right here.” He pointed at me, suggesting that I was truly what my task had demoted me to be, the lowest and least respected guy in the place. He didn’t even have enough common courtesy to mention those words to the young man in private, as if I was too stupid to understand what he was really saying.

I kept my mouth shut and did not mention anything of my situation, past, or education. This slap in the face hurt so badly and I wanted to stick up for myself and defend my pride, suggesting that I should not be in such a place. But I did not. I kept quiet. For days my ego hurt from his wounding words and I searched for ways to not let it affect me, though it did. It pains me to replay this story but it actually gives me tremendous hope. Hope, you wonder? Yes, Jesus teaches us that in order to become great in God’s eyes we have to become least in the world’s eyes. This does not mean that everyone must pick up trash for a living and cannot be a prestigious board member, but rather have the attitude of the least respected. Jesus was teaching about a pride issue, not one of physical status. This opportunity to receive such an insult that day afforded me the lesson of becoming the least in the world’s eyes. It was a chance for me to take a look at my heart and make sure that humbleness and meekness were reflected in my character, not a puffed up pride on the outside that may have the potential to take me into hell.

1. Want to be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?
2. Have you learned what it means on this earth to be the least?

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