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Titles and entitlement
- Jacob Ninan
The kingdom of God is unlike the kingdoms of this world. In it the one who is most valued by the King is the one who serves everyone the best (Mk.9:35). So it will happen that when we get to heaven we will see that many who were unknown and unappreciated here will have greater prominence there, and many who we thought were 'great men of God' are not even there! Jesus told His disciples that the people of this world clamoured for important seats, titles and recognition (Mt.23:6,7) while those in His kingdom had no desire for such but only to serve Him and His people.
Without understanding this spirit of Jesus, many Christians now aspire for fame and recognition. They promote themselves (not Jesus), love it when people honour them (Jesus tried to hide or move away), and hold on to imposing titles (Most Reverend, Reverend, Pastor, Evangelist, Prophet, Apostle, Deacon, Father, His Holiness). Most of them are highly offended if they are not addressed by these titles, offered seats of honour in public places, or allocated some part in special functions. They feel entitled to special recognition and treatment.
It is true that God gives each one of His children specific tasks in the Body of Christ (1Co.12:6,7). Some are also given special responsibilities in the church to train, empower and equip the others to serve the Lord (Ep.4:11,12). If God has entrusted us with such responsibilities in the church we are not to think we are more important or above the others. It is a work we have to do to serve the others, and it is not a title we have to put on ourselves as they do in the kingdoms of this world.
Can we revere any man on earth, or is it something reserved only for God? We have examples of the apostles Peter and Paul becoming aghast when people tried to bow down to them, and saying they were only mere men like the others. They didn't call one another apostle (2Pet.3:15). Is that what we see among some leaders now? They seem to enjoy receiving all the adulation and flattery that come their way and are not even averse to someone kissing their hands! They are eager to be invited to public platforms, receive garlands and other forms of felicitations, praised high to the sky and get an envelope as they leave!
Friends, is this what it means to become more like Jesus? Is this the spirit He came with? Is this what will be appreciated in heaven when we receive our rewards?
Let us be careful not to admire leaders who are seeking to exalt themselves. But more than that, let us be careful not to drink of that spirit, desiring to receive such attention ourselves, feeling sad if we don't have it or becoming envious of others. Let us learn to serve God and His people in all humility, being grateful for the grace He has shown to us sinners and being eager to bring honour and glory to God (Mt.6:9,10). And if some honour gets thrown our way from people, let us quickly acknowledge to God that it belongs entirely to Him.