In Matthew chapter 18, the disciples ask Jesus who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. In response Jesus doesn't rebuke the disciples for pursuing greatness. Nor does he tell them that an ambition for greatness is inappropriate. He does something far more unsettling. He commends the pursuit of greatness, but then presents them with a revolutionary view of what true greatness looks like.
Simply letting people know that something has happened is not necessarily boastful. Passing on information – encouraging people to rejoice as we rejoice – are admirable calls. Simple sharing is not what we are talking about here. It’s when we are puffing ourselves up – angling for people to respond with sentiments like “you’re amazing” that we find ourselves on dodgy ground.
Whenever a diagnostic category begins to blinker us, or even to blind us to the many other things going on in a person’s life, we have mis-stepped. Our detailed engagement with a person’s problem won’t be a sign of sophisticated understanding. It may in fact be a sign that our thinking has become simplistic. We have reduced this person to their diagnosis and we have lost sight of all the other things – especially the spiritual realities – that are also true of them.
When fear fuels our distraction, faith beholds the one who says, 'I am Lord, and I am with you.' When anger fuels derailed imagination, faith beholds the one who says, 'I am judge, and will do what is right.' When escape lures our attention away, faith beholds the one who says, 'I am your place of safety and help.'
When we are asking the question, ‘how do I fix my eyes on Jesus daily to help me run the Christian life with perseverance?’ looking at the lives of those who have already completed the race might be a helpful place to start.