[Jesus] sat down and called the twelve disciples over to him. Then he said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” — Mark 9:35

Good coaches know that when things are going badly, it is necessary to call a team meeting. It happens in families, too. Father decides it’s time to call everybody together to go over basic family rules. And businesses do the same. Management closes down the operation for a day, calls the staff together, and addresses the issues that need to be confronted.

There is a great precedent for this approach. Jesus did it with His disciples: “He sat down and called the twelve disciples over to him” (Mark 9:35), and He began to go over some of the things that He had decided needed special emphasis!

Jesus started with the issue of spiritual pecking order, which the disciples were apparently concerned about. He said, “Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else” (9:35). They couldn’t argue, because Jesus modeled it!

Then He addressed their elitist attitude toward their ministry. They had come across somebody who was using the name of Jesus to cast out demons, but because he did not belong to the twelve they “told him to stop” (9:38). Jesus said that was the wrong thing to do. If the man was genuinely operating in the name of Jesus—that is, out of a genuine relationship with Christ—there was no problem with him doing the same type of ministry as Christ and His twelve disciples were doing.

Then Jesus turned His attention to the subject of causing people to be hindered in their spiritual lives. He told them, “If anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone around the neck” (9:42). Harsh words indeed. The little ones to whom He referred could have been either the children who were gathered around or young believers like the man who was casting out demons. Either way, the message was clear. Using dramatic, symbolic language to make His point, Jesus warned of the consequences of sin, not only in terms of the harm it does to others but also with regard to the eternal destiny of the sinner.

The point of the heart-to-heart talk was to remind His disciples that they were called to be special—“the salt of the earth”—and that they were in danger of becoming ordinary—of losing their flavor!

Attitudes and actions speak loudly and make a profound, sometimes detrimental, impact on other people. Rather than be responsible for causing someone else “to lose faith,” strict discipline should be self-imposed. That way, men who follow Jesus can keep their Christlike flavor. Jesus likes His salt salty!

For further study: Mark 9:38-50

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.