The Attributes of an Apostle - Humility
Understanding that God is the only person who can bring people to salvation should result in almost automatic humbling of any evangelist or worker in the Kingdom, but the egos of people who claim to be servants of God matches, if not exceeds, the egos of those in the world.
Part of the reason for this is the competitive spirit with which we have been brought up, always instructed to seek the first place so that we can gain glory for ourselves and those near us. While this is understandable to a certain extent in the world we dwell in, the rules are totally different in God's world.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible illustrates this beautifully. You will find it in Mark 10: 35-45. Jesus had just told his apostles that he was going to die, but rather than be concerned about his fate they were more concerned about their own. Two of the apostles - James and John, the sons of Zebedee - went to Jesus with the request that when He popped it and went to heaven, they were to be seated on either side of Him. Bemused, Jesus told them that they didn't know what they were asking! "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?" He asked. The cup he was referring to was not, of course, the cup of wine, but the cup of suffering.
We all seek glory, but all too often don't realize that it comes with a price tag. That the tag is suffering is made clear in yet another verse of Scripture. "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:16-17 NIV, emphasis mine)
Both the apostles were willing to pray the price, and they did. James was the first of the apostles martyred for Christ. He was beheaded at Jerusalem. (An interesting story is told of the Roman officer who guarded James. He had watched as James defended his faith at his trial. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to get his head lopped off too.)
John was the only apostle who was not martyred, though legend has it that he faced painful death when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. Miraculously delivered from death, John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos where he wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation.
There is a continuation to this story, however, that you might find amusing. When the other apostles found out what James and John had done they were furious, because they wanted the seats of honor for themselves!!! Jesus called them all to Him and gently rebuked them saying that the world sought greatness by lording it over one another. "But it is not so among you, " he said. "Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:43-45 NRSV)
Once we come to this understanding of "servant leadership" and the attribute of humility that it requires, we quit trying to build our own little fiefdoms and set out to build God's Kingdom. We begin cooperating with others whose goals are the same as ours. As this is, quite obviously, in God's own interest, he blesses all the work that we do - whether individually or collectively.
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