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March 7th: Humility and Holiness

Scripture: Mark 9:33-50

Humility and Holiness

There is a lot that resonates in today’s passage in the world we live in. It starts off with Jesus overhearing an argument between the disciples about who is the greatest. Don’t we live in a world obsessed with power, status, and self-gratification?  At first, I wanted to say that I have had those arguments about who is the greatest in my youth, often talking about sports or school.  But the truth is that even though I may possess more humility in life today, don’t I still argue with my spouse about being right most of the time? Jesus teaches his disciples something that we know anecdotally.  “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” We know this because many of our favorite leaders are servant leaders. They are the leaders that will get their hands dirty and spend more time lifting others up. As soon as you have the conversation about who is the greatest, you have lost the ability to claim being the greatest. Jesus calls us to a different way of living. He calls us to humble ourselves, to prioritize others above ourselves, and to pursue holiness with unwavering determination. He reminds us that true greatness is found not in exalting ourselves but in serving others with love and humility.

The question of greatness and humility continues in verses 38-41. John and the other disciples share that they had witnessed another driving out demon in the name of Jesus and they stopped them. Jesus shares that there is no need to stop them because whoever is not against us is for us. To me this speaks directly to our denominational conflicts. Do you go to the right church, share communion the right way, baptize the right way, read the correct translation of the Bible, and even pray the right way?  We should focus the great joy in all those things: that we go to church, share communion, have been baptized, read the Bible, pray.  It’s not about who is the greatest; it’s a question of whether we are growing in relationship with and sharing the love of God.

The last 8 verses are written in hyperbole (they are over the top as a literary device). If you cause someone to sin or stumble, should you literally tie a millstone around your neck and jump in the sea? Of course not.  If it is your hand that causes you or another to sin, should you cut it off?  Of course not.  What it is saying is that time is short. The Kingdom of God is great.  We should take very seriously the consequences of sin, live a life like every moment counts, seek reconciliation, and pursue holiness at all costs. 


  1. Where in your life can you trade in comparison for serving others?

  2. What stumbling block is God calling you to remove from your life?

  3. How can you lead more like Jesus, more like a servant leader?


Dear God, when we get stuck comparing ourselves to others, remind us that we are all in this together. Give us the strength to life one another up. Let us share the good news of Your love and power through the actions of our very lives.  Amen.

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