The Greatness of Being Useful
Matthew 20:26-28
But it shall not be so among you: but whoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;…

Yet what has the patriot made himself but the servant of his countrymen: It was in order to the ministering to the well-being of thousands, that he threw himself into the breach, and challenged tyranny to the battle. It was for the sake of securing the rights of those who trod the same soil with himself, that he arose as the champion of the wretched and injured. The case is the same with the philosopher as with the patriot. Accordingly, he who labours in the mine of truth, and presents to the world the results of his investigations, furnishes his fellow-men with new principles on which to act in the business of life, and thus equips them for fresh enterprises, and instructs them how to add to the sum total of happiness. We need not exemplify this in particular instances. You are all aware how scientific research is turned to account in everyday life, and how the very lowest of our people enjoy, in one way or another, the fruits of discoveries which are due to the marvellous sagacity, and the repeated experiments, of those who rank foremost in the annals of philosophy. And thus it is evident that the man who is great in science, is great in the power of serving his fellow-men, and that it is this latter greatness which insures him their applauses. If his discoveries were of no benefit to the many; if they opened no means by which enjoyments might be multiplied, toil diminished, or danger averted; his name would be known only within a limited circle, and there would be nothing that approached to a general recognition of superiority. The individual again who gains renown as a statesman, who serves his country in the senate as the warrior in the field, is the minister to all classes, so that the very lowest have the profit of his toils. And in proportion as the service wore the aspect of selfishness, would the tribute of applause be diminished: we should be less and less disposed to allow, that, in making himself a servant, he had made himself great, if we had increasing cause to think that his main design was the serving himself. But there is no room for suspicions of this class, when the exhibition is that of a fine Christian philanthropy, leading a man to give his assiduity to the sick-beds of the poor, or the prisons of the criminal. Accordingly, when an individual is manifestly and strongly actuated by this philanthropy, there is an almost universal consent in awarding him the appellation of great: even those who would be amongst the last to imitate are amongst the first to applaud.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

WEB: It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.

Pride Destroys the Best Elements of Character
Top of Page
Top of Page