Today’s devotional will surely get your GOAT. Especially if you recognize that “GOAT” stands for “Greatest Of All Time.” (Apologies to our international readers, since the acronym may not translate to your language.)

There have been people identified as the “GOAT” in several fields – most often the realm of sport. Perhaps the top of the mountain in this arena occurs when someone identifies themselves as the “GOAT.” Whether Muhammad Ali was or was not the greatest boxer of all time is certainly a matter of opinion; but HIS opinion was certainly clear.

Ali made the public claim – “I am the greatest.” In fact, he actually said, “Not only am I the greatest – I’m the DOUBLE GREATEST. I’m the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skilfullest fighter in the ring today.” At least he left the door open for boxers who would follow after him. 🙂

Of course performers in the realm of music have often been active self promoters. One man rises to the top of an admittedly large heap in this respect – Kanye West. Many musical personalities have tooted their own horn, but Kanye is the only one I know about to describe himself by saying, “I am a god.” He’s also said, “I’m unquestionably, undoubtedly, the greatest human artist of all time.” Well, you can’t accuse him of lacking confidence!

Today’s verse will bring some balance to statements of this sort.

Where’s your focus? Is it on you and your accomplishments? Or is it on thankfulness for the blessings, gifts, talents and opportunities you’ve been given? The root of thankfulness is one that grows into a great and flourishing tree.

Before we are too harsh on Muhammed Ali and Kanye West, let’s not forget another group that had a few different arguments about which one of THEM was the greatest — the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Let me set some context for one of these arguments. At one point towards the end of their training time with Him, Jesus called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and power to cure diseases. Then He sent them out two-by-two with instructions to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. They returned and told Jesus all they had done. It’s an exciting thing to give a report about healing miracles and vanquished demons!

Then they all got to be part of the miraculous feeding of five thousand men, plus their wives and families, with only five loaves of bread and two fish. That was a totally new experience for them, they’d never experienced miraculous multiplication before.

About a week later Peter, James and John accompany Jesus up to the top of a mountain to pray. As they are praying, Jesus is transfigured before their very eyes and they behold Him in His heavenly glory. Moses and Elijah also appear, which must have utterly astonished them. Finally, a cloud appeared and enveloped them. They were afraid as they entered the cloud, but my guess is that Moses wasn’t. He’d had the cloud-on-the-mountain-top experience before. When a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to Him!” I’m sure the disciples were completely undone.

And yet …
AFTER they’d seen that the only way they had power over demons and diseases was because Jesus gave it to them, and
AFTER they’d watched the loaves of bread and the fish multiply in their hands at Jesus’ command, and
AFTER Jesus’ heavenly glory is manifest before their eyes, and
AFTER God the Father speaks to them directly about His Messiah

THEN the disciples start to argue among themselves about which one of THEM is going to be considered the GOAT – the Greatest Of All Time – among the disciples of Jesus! They apparently weren’t having their argument in His presence, because the gospel records that Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, decided to teach them a lesson about this. Don’t miss that. JESUS knew the thoughts of their hearts!!!! (Yup, that’s my mind-reading Messiah !!)

If this had been the only time this argument occurred, one could be more inclined to extend more grace. But it wasn’t.

As incredible as it may seem, it happens again — AROUND THE TABLE AT THE LAST SUPPER !!!

You’ve got to get the picture in your mind. Jesus has made it clear to His disciples why they are in Jerusalem, and told them several times what is about to happen. Now He’s gathered them to celebrate the Passover. He’s taken bread, and announced to them “This is My Body, given for you.” He’s taken the third cup of the Passover celebration – the cup of Redemption – and proclaimed, “This cup is the new covenant in My Blood, which is poured out for you.”

It’s a holy and solemn moment, almost somber. The time of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and death is approaching, rapidly. Then Jesus tells them something that likely made their jaws drop. He tells them that one of the men sitting around that holy table is going to betray Him!

As they began to question among themselves which of them was going to do this, an argument arose among the disciples as to which of them would be considered the greatest.

You can’t make this stuff up !!!!

I can almost see the argument in my mind. The disciples are trying to figure out who the traitor will be. Not only are they asking Jesus, “Is it me, Lord?” but they’re talking among themselves. Someone probably said, “John, you don’t think I could be the one, right?” And John could have said, “No way! I think you’re OK.” Then someone says, “Yeah, John, not you either; He loves you the most. But that’s OK, because I’m the greatest apostle of all time.” And the argument starts in earnest!

They were arguing about which one of them was the GOAT, and that’s always a bahhhh–dd idea.

Jesus finally steps in and says, “Hey fellas, settle down. The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, but you’re NOT supposed to be like that. The greatest among you should be the one who serves in the lowest place. I’m giving you the Kingdom the Father has given me; but don’t be like Gentile kings, lead by serving one another.”

In other words …


Jesus wants His disciples to recognize the position He was placing them in. He was bestowing a kingdom upon them. A Kingdom in which they were to be rulers in the same way Jesus was. They were to rule by expressing love and grace, by laying aside power and pride. Servant leadership.

These lessons are important, because the apostles’ problem is OURS, too. We love to make ourselves more important. We love titles, power and authority.

We need to remember what Jesus told His disciples that night – “I am among you as one who SERVES.”

Our call is not to proclaim our own supposed greatness, nor that of whatever ministries we may be part of. The Kingdom is above all that. The KING is the one whose greatness we are to extoll. It is not about us, and it never was. It is utterly and totally about Him.

Our call is to do the work of the Kingdom. To build HIS KINGDOM, not our own little dominions.

A friend of mine sent me an email this morning, reminding me of a vision he had had of him working in a field and gathering the harvest. Alongside him were many fields with ripe wheat, and yet no one was working them. His field was his destiny, the other fields represented the calling of other people who had been called to advance the Kingdom. As he considered these fields, some fields were bigger than his field, some were smaller, some had not been touched, and some were partially finished, but in all these fields the wheat was ready for the harvest.

The Spirit revealed the stories of the various fields. The bigger ones had much prominence and that person got carried away with the notoriety and applause of men and left his field only partially harvested. One servant was lazy, and left his field untouched because he didn’t want to do the labor required for harvesting. Another was partially done, but that servant had been distracted by the world. The enemy had used different tools to get the servants to abandon their assigned field, but in each one wheat was blowing and ready for harvest.

The fields are white for harvest, my friends. Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers.

Like my friend, I’ve long known that I wasn’t God’s first choice for much of what He has placed in my hands; and that may also be true of you. But He is sending forth workers because He cares about the harvest of souls. He paid a great price for them.

So if you think you’re the GOAT – the Greatest of All Time – remember this:
The goat was used as a sin offering in the Old Testament, the sins of the nation were laid upon the goat.

We, too, have the real GOAT, and He has taken OUR sin upon Himself.


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