Leonard Ravenhill tells the story about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village in Europe. As the tour guide was relating the history of the village a tourist saw an old man sitting on a bench.
In a rather patronizing way, the tourist asked the old gentleman, “Were any great men born in this village?”
The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”
There are many opinions about what greatness is and how it is achieved.
Tolstoy said, “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.”
“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power,” wrote Anne Frank, “but in character and goodness.”
Charles Simmons said, “Integrity is the first step to true greatness.”
The 19th century author and preacher Phillips Brooks opined, “No one who has come to true greatness has not felt in some degree that his life belongs to the people, and what God has given them he gives it for mankind.”
On one occasion Jesus was asked by the disciples, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child and set him before them. Then uttered these profound words.
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3-4)
Jesus is saying that the road to greatness begins with a humble spirit. Humility, however, is a forgotten virtue in our day. In fact, it is almost a scorned quality. Often a humble person in our culture is perceived as being weak. cowardly or fragile.
There is an old Mac Davis song that says, “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror cause I get better looking each day.” That reminds me of the quote by Muhammad Ali, who when he was in his prime said, “It’s hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.”
Part of our problem is understanding what humility really is. R.C. Trench observed that humility, “does not demand undue self-depreciation but rather lowliness of self-estimation and freedom from vanity.” The humble person is free from pride, arrogance and a spirit of haughtiness in his accomplishments and achievements. His success, whether it is physical, material, financial or spiritual is received with appreciation and enjoyed with thankfulness to God.
A humble person, like Jesus, focuses more on the Father than on self. He is more interested in others than his own personal desires. It is not a belittling spirit, but a giving and sharing spirit. It is not self-directed, but others directed.
A humble person also recognizes his spiritual inadequacy and his inability to save himself. There is a realization and admission that “I need the Lord.”
Like, little children, humble people recognize their dependence. Children need their parents. For food. Shelter. Protection. Support. In the same way, we need our Heavenly Father. He supplies our daily bread. He sent Jesus to point the way. He will supply our every need.
Little children trust. Child-like trust is a proverb. In fact, we worry that sometimes children are too trusting. Unfortunately, in a day when evil people would harm children, they must be warned to be careful. Fortunately, we can trust our Father 100% of the time. With Him, we never have to fear. Or worry. Or be anxious.
Jesus offers a serious and severe warning to anyone who would cause a child to be spiritually harmed. Don’t neglect the children. Or hurt them by a bad example. Or wound their conscience. Or crush their spirit.
Instead, let us learn some important life lessons from the little children.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman