How do you define greatness? Is a person with a sharp suit and a fast car great? Or is it a popular and loved person who is truly great? Maybe someone who follows all the rules of the Bible? Or maybe it’s the one who works hard and becomes CEO of his company.
Could it be that all of these definitions are wrong? Could someone be winning in his fitness, family, financially, and career, and yet lack what it takes to be great? Let’s take a moment to look at what the world’s greatest teacher had to say on the subject:
46 An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”
I’m better! No, I’m better!
We see in this scene men arguing with each other as to who is better than whom. Have you ever, perhaps in your mind, compared yourself to those around you and decided that you really are greater than they? It is easy for us to overlook some of our own shortcomings and see ourselves favorably. “If only others were more like me,” we think, “this place would be a whole lot better…”
The problem is, besides becoming puffed up with ourselves, we are apt to have a very mixed-up view of greatness and what it takes to be great. Like the disciples in the Luke 9 story, we focus on external accomplishment and things that impress men. Jesus taught the disciples, as He teaches us, that God values highest what men often esteem lowest.
Why waste my time with kids?
Children are often looked down on in our society—and not just because of their stature! Adults will often think of children as silly, naïve, and simple. Rather than have a conversation with a little kid or tell a story from the Bible, we adults will prefer to spend time on “important things” like washing dishes, paying bills, or even surfing facebook.
In contrast, Jesus defines greatness by one who receives a child in His name. When we accept children, we accept Jesus, and when we accept Jesus we are accepting God. To be great, we must be willing to, and take the time to, tell kids about God, about Jesus, and about what He has done. When is the last time that you shared God with a child?
Will you serve, even if no one cares?
Perhaps we won’t impress those around us with speech about how we told kids about Jesus. Maybe teaching a Sunday School class of second graders or volunteering to lead game time on Wednesday night will not be rewarded with the thanks of your fellow church members. Maybe no one will care. But isn’t that the point? Do we really love God for who he is, and desire to serve Him and do what He says for that reason only? Perhaps this is one reason Jesus defines greatness in this way—who will value a child, take the time to pour truth and love into him, even if he must do so thanklessly. Lord, teach us to be great!