by: Matt Alexander
Greatness is defined as "the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent." In life greatness is set before us as a noble goal worthy of achievement. Striving to be great is rewarded in academics, athletics, and every realm of society. Those who desire to stand above the rest are viewed as exemplary as they set a worthy standard for others. Desiring to be great is rarely seen as a negative flaw of anyone's character.
In Luke 9:46-48 Jesus found the disciples conversing over the issue of greatness. This conversation quickly escalated into an argument over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. They wanted to be the one who stood above all the rest in God's eyes. Then, at just the right time, Jesus interrupts them by taking a child in his arms to illustrate the true picture of greatness before God. A child - small, fragile, and with little to offer. A child - one who often represents lack of maturity. A child - one who is needy. A child - one who is yet to receive a full education. A child - one with no income. A child - one whom the temple leaders would likely never put in a place of spiritual leadership.
And yet, Jesus used a child to represent who is great in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus' words should resound in our ears. As he placed this child before these argumentative disciples he said, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me." Don't miss this next part: "For he who is least among you all is the one who is great." Did you hear that?
Jesus completely redefined greatness. He did not say that we shouldn't strive for spiritual greatness, that we should remain childlike in our faith, or not pursue worthy goals of Godliness. In fact, all of those are marks of spiritual greatness in the Kingdom of God. However, Jesus said the definition of greatness in God's kingdom is HUMILITY.
We dare not look at our religious rituals, spiritual accomplishments, church service, or any other earthly mark of greatness to define where we stand in the kingdom of God. Instead we must constantly check ourselves against God's thermometer of humility. Are we daily putting others before ourselves? Are we, like Jesus, ready and willing to get on our knees, take a basin of water, and wash the feet of those who stand before us.
The enemy desires to speak into our lives today and cause us to fix our gaze on works and duties in order to define spiritual greatness. He knows if we do this then pride will quickly take hold in our lives. The moment pride takes up residence then we become useless in the Kingdom of God. Jesus, however, desires to speak into our lives today today and lead us to humble service. He wants us to respond to him as a child - needy, dependent, and willing to follow his requests.
He desires for us to live this day putting others needs before our own. As we do that - we just might find that we are being used by God in great ways to further his kingdom on earth.
Today, don't let the world define greatness for you. Let God define it within you. Let's get our eyes off of ourselves and fix our gaze on Jesus. He will keep us humble, equip us to serve, and lead us to the place of exaltation in the Kingdom of God.
That, my friend, is far better than any earthly measure of greatness.