Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

Importance vs. Significance

The human heart longs to walk the path that leads to glory.


Well, that sounds wonderfully detached, doesn't it? It can be so easy to write like that, to speak of humanity in general, and not of me, specifically. So, let's try that again, shall we? With a bit more honesty and transparency...

I am grieved to admit it: my heart longs for the path that leads to glory. Delusions of grandeur, as Han Solo exclaimed to Chewie. Unfortunately, I'm not alone. Many before me have walked this sinful road. Let's take a look at a couple brothers who desired this of King Jesus:

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  

(Mark 10:36-37, ESV)


Jesus said to them,

“You do not know what you are asking.

Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

(Mark 10:38)

It's just like us, isn't it? So often, we do not know what we are asking for. We think we do, but we don't see the way God sees. We can't look beyond the next second and speak with certainty how it will turn out. But we act so often like we can.

My Lenten devotional this year, Journey to the Cross, comments on Jesus' response to James and John:

In other words: “My glory is not what you think it is. And the path of glory is certainly not what you think it is.”

Like we often do, these brothers had mistaken importance for significance.

Importance speaks to the value we derive from things like position, status, and the esteem of others. It is about building our brand: dropping names, getting close to popular people, flaunting knowledge, looking busy, defining spiritual maturity by activity and achievement, exalting public gifts above the others.

Significance speaks to the value we add to people and culture. It’s about building others up: remembering their name, drawing near to the fringe, teaching others, being accessible, defining spiritual maturity by love for others, exalting Jesus as the head of the body, and appreciating the contribution of each member.  (paragraphing and emphasis mine)

This season of sacrifice, Lent, is meant to get us thinking about the greatness of Jesus as seen in his cross. The cross is a sign of his humility, he humbled himself by being obedient, even to death on a cross. He did that for others. For those who wander unremembered through our ranks, for those on the fringe, for those inaccessible for a thousand reasons, unloved by the rest of society.

And he did that for you.

And for me.

And I love him for that. Really. Love. Him.

He also did it to set an example. To show us the path, not to importance, but to true significance. A life for others. A life of laying oneself down. A life of thinking, not less of yourself, but of thinking of yourself less.

It is why I want to give up a few things over these 40 days of Lent. Because I want less of other things, to get more of Jesus. And to be more like him.

Monday's Call to Worship

A Terrible Moral Huntsman