Not too long ago I found myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat as a new class member in my Bible Study Fellowship group spoke. She shared that she found the lessons so challenging that she was able to answer them only when she started her lesson by praying. Praying for God to give her wisdom and guide her as she studied the passage and answered the questions.
Since I’ve been in BSF for so many years…the answers usually come easy…perhaps too easy. As a result I may fail to begin my lesson in prayer…and my first thought is not always…let me pray to God for wisdom in answering this question.
When my new classmate said that she has to begin her lesson in prayer…I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit…a nudge…a reminder. I should not be presumptuous, but instead come humbly before the Lord and ask for His guidance, wisdom and discernment.
I can tell I’m off track…when I’m completing my lesson and I come to a question that is difficult and I get frustrated. Instead of excited that God is going to show me something new…I start stressing. The frustration factor is multiplied when I’m doing my lesson late in the week, rather than daily.
Tonight I had a tough question…what does Matthew 11:11 mean?
“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matthew 11:11
And I had no idea what the answer was. At first…I thought I’d go on and come back and complete it later. Soon I had to leave for church. I chatted with folks at the prayer meeting to get their consensus. I listened…but it still didn’t connect.
When I got home…a visit to Bible Gateway afforded me the opportunity to read the passage in several different versions. The snag with Bible Study Fellowship is that you can’t use commentaries to help you answer your question. You must only use the Bible. You can also look up definitions in the dictionary…but that’s it. After reading the passages…I asked God for wisdom and stepped away from the computer.
As I did so…God brought to mind the passage in Matthew 20:26 which states that if we are to be great in God’s kingdom…we are to be a servant of all. That seemed to answer most of the question…but I was still uncertain what God meant when he said we would be “great”. After all how could we greater than John the Baptist?
Will I was off to my second tool…Webster’s online dictionary to look up the word “great”. There were several definitions that seemed to fit: “remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness”, “superior in character or quality”, or “used as a generalized term of approval”.
While not 100% sure of my answer…I believe that Matthew 11:11 tells us that if we serve others, consider others more valuable than ourselves and serve them…then we will be considered great in God’s kingdom. Effective in carrying out God’s work and that work will be approved by God.
Jesus himself came to serve others. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
If Jesus…the Son of God served…how much more should I serve others?
I look forward to hearing the other woman think this passage means, as well as our leader Terri…and of course the lesson’s notes.
Even if my answer varies…I still learned a valuable lesson that when I seek to know God and His word, I need to go to Him in prayer first. For He will be faithful to answer that prayer.