The Reality of Greatness

February 13, 2016

by Maria Fontaine

Someone I was communicating with mentioned the “greats” of Christianity. Although I’ve used this term—I think we all have—and I greatly admire those who the Lord has placed in the public eye to be examples, I felt the Lord wanted to give me some further understanding of how He looks at greatness.

Those like Amy Carmichael, Adoniram Judson, Mother Teresa and many others who we’ve heard and read about did great things and gave their lives in sacrificial love. I’m not minimizing that at all. However, the Lord pointed something out to me through one of those simple but profound little questions that open a whole new perspective.

He said:

“Mother Teresa was a wonderful example of determination, faith, and overcoming, but what about those other women who worked right alongside her all those years in the slums and garbage dumps of India but never received public acclaim or recognition? Were they any less great?

“Or what about any other child of My kingdom who has put their whole heart into following Me, giving unselfishly because My Spirit motivated them to do so? No matter how big or small their contribution looks to others, if they are doing their best to lay down their lives daily for Me, are these not great also? They are in My eyes.

“Many times in this life, those who are giving everything may not be lauded or recognized for their love and dedication. Few people may realize what they’ve sacrificed for Me. Many may see them as insignificant or small.”

It’s natural to want to compare one thing to another, one person to another. That’s how our minds often work. We tend to consider those who the Lord has called to stand in the spotlight as greater than the rest. However, the Lord in His wisdom sets some up as role models, not because they are better or have accomplished more than others, but to remind us that “He that would be greatest among you must be the servant of all.”1

It’s not the admiration of others that makes a person great. It’s their close connection to Jesus that inspires a sacrificial love for others, as they follow His example. That greatness is something that every sincere, wholehearted child of God—whether known or unknown—can be living in his or her own way by doing what Jesus has asked them to do.

As it says in 1 Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.” As we let Jesus guide our lives, humbling ourselves before Him by accepting and putting our hearts into doing what He shows us is most important, we become great in His eyes. Like children who emulate and learn from their parents, because they trust in their love for them, Jesus asks us to trust in His love for us and emulate the example He set for us of sacrificial love. Placing our lives in His hands is humbling, but it’s the surest way to find the glory that only God can give us.

I will close this little article with some wisdom from the Word:

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”—Matthew 18:2–4 ESV

He who is least among you all is the one who is great.Luke 9:48 ESV

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”—Isaiah 57:15 ESV 

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.—Luke 18:14 ESV 

1 Matthew 23:11.