The Law of Liberty (6)
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.19
Our highest priority
A popular business book of a few years ago carries the title, Good to Great, by Jim Collins. Its purpose is to guide good companies to become great ones – more productive and profitable, better products and services, more revenue, a richer culture and happier staff, and a better standing in the world.
Moving from good to great: what business wouldn’t want that?
The book, of course, was a huge best-seller, because anyone who has a good business has had a taste of how exhilarating that can be. Naturally, therefore, such a person would like to get from good to great, and this book evidently has helped many businesses to fulfill that desire.
Jesus said that the highest priority of every Christian is to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6.33). Whatever else we do – make a living, raise a family, play sports, take care of the lawn, love our wives, vote in the next election, be active in church, listen to some Bach – all this and everything else besides must be accomplished within the overall framework of seeking the Kingdom of God.
God Himself has called us to His Kingdom and transferred us into it via His Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 2.12; Col. 1.13; Gal. 4.6). Kingdom-seeking thus becomes a full-time calling that embraces and transforms every aspect of our lives. Once a believer starts to do that, and begins to realize how good, how truly good it is to live in the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit, he will understand that this is what life is all about (Rom. 14.17, 18). This is the good life, as God intends it.
It’s so good, in fact, that anyone who has tasted of it will want to move on from good to great.
From good to great
Living in God’s Kingdom is good, to be sure; but if it is possible to go from good to great in the Kingdom of God, most of us, I think, would want to move on to that higher plateau. Something in our soul, whetted with the notion of greatness, longs to realize it. The mind strives to conceive it; the heart greatly desires it; and the conscience makes it a priority in everything. Becoming great in the Kingdom of God means great right where you are, constant in knowing and loving Jesus, faithful in all things to serve and glorify Him, fruitful and edifying and encouraging and “lovely” (Hopkins) in Jesus. Yeah – great!
Jesus said it is possible to go from good to great in the Kingdom. If we don’t want that, we should ask ourselves, Why not? If we’ve tasted the good rule of King Jesus and are offered greatness, yet we demur, what does that say about the nature of our faith?
Greatness in the Kingdom is available for everyone who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good. All that’s necessary is to keep the Law of God and teach others to do so as well.
How does that work? How does keeping and teaching the Law of God lead to greatness in the Kingdom?
It’s simple. The more we keep and teach the Law of God, the more we see Jesus there (Jn. 5.39). The more we see Jesus, the more we will become like Him (2 Cor. 3.12-18), and the more we will grow in love for God and our neighbors (Matt. 22.34-40), inclining us to serve them by whatever means may be at hand. Thus, whatever we have done that is good we will want to ratchet up to greatness as Jesus is formed in us by His Spirit. As we go from good to great, the reality of the Kingdom and the hope it conveys will become more evident in us, creating more opportunities to tell others about our good and great Savior (1 Pet. 3.15).
Is it a priority of your conscience to referee your soul for greatness in the Kingdom of God?
The Law teaches the way of love, and by keeping the Law, love becomes the highest value and priority of the conscience. Keep the Law, and you will learn the priorities, protocols, and practices of love, fortifying your conscience to guide your heart and mind into loving action. And as you love, you will serve like Jesus did. He promised that those who would be greatest of all must be servants of all (Mk. 10.43). The Law equips us for loving service, so it empowers us for Kingdom greatness.
Further, keeping the Law allows us to know the filling of the Spirit, to escape the clutches of the lie – in all its forms – and to refract the glory of God into every arena of our lives, all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities. Thus we become great for Jesus right where we are.
Ticket to greatness
The Law of God is thus the ticket from the bleachers to the box seats, from the nose bleed section of the Kingdom to the orchestra row, from good to great as a citizen and ambassador of the Lord. It can set us free from the morass of a “good enough” faith into the glory and joy of greatness in the Kingdom of God.
On the mount of transfiguration, Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” But he wasn’t satisfied with good. Peter wanted great. He wanted to stay there permanently, basking in the glory of God as it radiated through the person of the Law-keeping Christ. It was good to be there with Jesus in His glory. But it would have been great to abide there permanently, in the fullness of joy and pleasures forever more of our glorious Lord and King (Ps. 16.11).
Once you have truly tasted the goodness of God’s Kingdom, you won’t be content with anything other than greatness. Any businessman who is content for his company to be merely good when the way to greatness is clearly explained, is probably setting his company up, not for continuing goodness, but for inevitable mediocrity. Striving for greatness in the Kingdom of God will define the way we seek the Kingdom, as the Law of God becomes embedded in our mind, etched into our heart, and established in our conscience.
Believers who say, “My faith is good enough for me,” and who do not desire to be great in the Kingdom, are thinking only about themselves, and not about the needs of their neighbors, or the expectations of our Lord. Jesus challenges us to go from good to great in the Kingdom of God. Their consciences have gone into a state of arrested development, which will ultimately end up in their consciences being seared.
Greatness is offered. Greatness is our destiny. Kingdom greatness is available now.
And the way to greatness is defined along the path marked out by the Law of God.
1. In your own life as a Christian, what would it mean for you to go from “good to great”?
2. “The Law equips us for loving service, so it empowers us for Kingdom greatness.” How does the Law of God equip us for serving others?
3. If “the way to greatness is defined along the path marked out by the Law of God”, what are the implications of this for you? How can Kingdom greatness become a defining priority of your conscience?
Next steps – Transformation: What’s one thing you can do to begin moving from “good to great” in your Christian life?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.