As I look to the scriptures I am reminded of Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s drum major instinct speech. The desire to be great, the desire to be upfront to lead the parade. Each human being has this desire for greatness.
Before we look at Greatness I want to look at prayer and how we approach God with our wants, needs and desires. The words of St James are a strong lesson in learning how to live in right relationship with others and our heavenly Father, as well as how approach God in prayer and supplication.
St James says “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.” What we are first called to is selflessness and seeking the good of other, their wellbeing and wholeness. Placing others needs above our own. We only need to look at what happens in our society when selfishness and ambition are placed above to good of others. Whether it is the pandemic, to immigration, to equity in health care even the care of the environment. Because of the disregard for others and self centered motives, other needs as well as the very creation entrusted to us is in disorder and disarray. Ambition, posturing, and self promotion have replaced the sense of duty and responsibility toward the care of others and creation.
So as St Jamea teaches us seek wisdom.
”wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity. “
Now watch this, through prayer we can seek and utilize this wisdom. To often we regard God a ”wish giver.” We have a wish list and we give it to God to provide us with what we want. We’ve spoken about this recently, but there is something important that blocks our blessing and God’s greatness being poured out upon us. To often we are so busy trying to get what God has in His hands and fail to seek his face. If we seek authentic prayer and seeking after Him, allowing God to become our deepest desire then we will see obsticles move, needs provided, sadness and depression transformed.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always”.1 Chronicles 16:11
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:13
For James the problem is we ask wrongly, and this fail to receive what God has for us. Our approach, disposition and direction is misplaced. We are so busy worried about what we want and desire, that prayer is void of praise of God and recognizing his goodness and because centered on what we want. If you can’t say Amen say ouch.
St James says:
“You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive,
because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Now lets look us turn our attention to the bickering a d arguing in the Gospel. Jesus has just been teaching his disciples about His passion, suffering and eventual death. What are the disciples doing? The are not listening to Jesus, rather they to busy figuring out who is the greatest amongst them.
From Jesus and from Martin we are told, if you want to be great wonderful, if you want to be be first wonderful, if you want to lead the parade, wonderful. Be first on love, be first in service, True greatness comes from a willingness to serve.