Last week we raised the question “Does God want America to be great again?”
The point of our post really spoke to God’s providence in a nation that is moving father and farther away from honoring Him, His Word and principles of righteousness.
Apparently some were concerned that either I’m not going to vote, maybe would vote for the “wrong candidate,” or could be encouraging others to “sit this election out.”
Among the numerous questions we asked was “What if God’s definition of great is different from ours?”
So today, let’s shift gears and consider greatness from an individual viewpoint. How can I be great in God’s eyes?
In Luke 1 an angel appeared to a priest named Zacharias and announced that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son. His name would be called John. His birth would not only bring them “joy and gladness,” but the angel prophesied others would “rejoice at his birth.” Then the heavenly messenger said, “he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” (Lk 1:13-15)
Later Jesus would say of John, “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt 11:11)
What made John great? Surely the qualities that made him great could be followed by us today in our quest for greatness.
(1) He had a good beginning spiritually.
The Bible says “the child grew and became strong in spirit’ (Lk. 1:80). John had a good start because his parents “were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Lk. 1:6).
There is always the possibility of a person becoming great before God when they have God-fearing parents. There are two lessons here: (1) Parents need to raise their children in the teaching and admonition of the Lord. (2) Young people need to heed the wisdom, advice and influence of godly parents.
(2) He Exercised Self-Control.
John was great in God’s eyes because he was self disciplined. His life was one of restraint. Moderation. And abstinence from abuses, influences, habits that could hinder his work. (Matt 3:4; 11:18-19)
True greatness, in God’s eyes, can never be achieved when we succumb to our baser instincts. Yield to the lusts of the flesh. And pander to unholy desires.
(3) He Knew His Mission in Life.
John understand his God-given purpose. He was the forerunner announcing the coming of Christ. He knew who he was. And he knew who he wasn’t. He wasn’t the Messiah. But the Christ was coming. That message was plainly articulated to his audiences (Lk. 1:76; Jn 1:19-27)
For our lives to be great, we must know who we are. Why we are on earth. And what our God-given purpose in life is about. This involves being honest about our talents. Using our skills effectively. And not trying to be someone or something we’re not created to be.
(4) He was Courageous.
John was not, as Jesus put it, “a reed shaken with the wind.” He denounced the Pharisees and vipers. And commanded them to repent. His preaching was plain, pointed and practical. He didn’t mince words. He condemned Herod for his adultery, which ultimately cost him his life (Matt 14:4).
(5) He was Enthusiastic.
John was a man with a zeal for God. A study of his life reveals a person with passion. Fire. Fervor. And intensity for spiritual matters.
Likewise, our lives will not only be better, but can achieve greatness when we serve God with urgency, and enthusiastically live for Christ.
(6) He was humble.
It is paradox but greatness is always characterized by humility. John constantly pointed to one who was greater and mightier than he was. John said that he wasn’t even worthy to unlace the sandals of Jesus. (John 1:26-34)
D.L. Moody once said, “The beginning of greatness is to be LITTLE. The increase of greatness is to be LESS. The perfection of greatness is to be NOTHING.” Indeed, as Jesus taught, the road to greatness is achieved by self-sacrificing service to others (Matt 20:26).
Whether America can ever be great again, is ultimately less of an issue than you and I seeking and attaining greatness in the sight of the Lord.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman