By Don Martin
Our world has seen and produced many great men! When many think of greatness they think of such men as Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver who have contributed so much to our life styles and quality of life. Some think of men like Louis Pasteur who have made great medical contributions which have benefitted all of us. Some automatically equate greatness with political power and, thus, think of political giants such as our presidents. Others associate riches with greatness and the wealthy of the world come to their mind. I have always been amazed at the greatness of the intellectuals of the world of science such as Euclid and Archimedes (mathematical and logic achievements), Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Galen for the genius they possessed.
Concerning greatness, most all of us have a desire (either expressed or suppressed) to be great. Doctor Sigmund Freud, considered one of the most distinguished psychologists of the twentieth century, informs us that everything man does springs from two motives: (1) biological drives and (2) the desire to be great. One highly recognized philosopher, Mr. John Dewey, has said that the deepest urge in man is the desire to be important. Now, we perhaps could scripturally and psychologically question and qualify the position reflected by Freud and Dewey; however, the fact remains there is within most men a desire to be somebody – to be important. The desire to be “great” and “important” can be sinful and eventuate in total spiritual destruction (cf. Matt. 6:1,2). On the other hand, the desire can be healthy (cf. Matt. 11: 11). Let’s now proceed to take this “innate” desire of man to be great and motivationally use it. First, however, we must ask and endeavor to answer what is true greatness and who is a great person?
Great Because Of Father. As a young man in the competitive secular world I learned early in life that your ancestry is of significance if you secularly achieve greatness. Concerned reader, this is also true spiritually. In the physical sense, many have inherited greatness. This ancestry importance – regardless of how great it is – is only temporary and unable to truly and lastingly benefit and profit man (cf. Matt. 6:19,20). Materialism and human acclaim are utterly unable to satisfy man’s deepest needs such as true peace of mind (cf. Col. 3:15; Phil. 4:7).
Beloved, the Christian has as his father the all powerful God of heaven. How wonderful it is that the God who created and sustains all things has said I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17,18). In the words of the song “The Child of a King,” “My Father is rich in houses and lands, He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands! Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, His coffers are full – He has riches untold. I’m the child of a King, the child of King! With Jesus, my Savior, I’m a child of a King.”
Great Because Of Work Performed. In classes and courses pertaining to human relations it is often taught that to evaluate an individual to whom you are being introduced and to determine his abilities one of the first questions you ask is regarding the kind of work the person does. The doctor or lawyer, according to this standard, would make a greater impression that a janitor or street cleaner. In our investigation of the truly great person, what kind of work does the Christian perform? To the Christians at Philippi Paul penned: “Holding forth the word of life . . .” (Phil. 2:16). Luke wrote of the Jerusalem Christians, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Thus, the Christian is involved in performing the greatest work on earth – winning souls to Christ.
Great Because Of Influence. Many associate greatness and define importance as it pertains to influence. In this sense, the man that exerts great influence would be a great person. “Ye are the light of the world,” Jesus teaches His followers, “a city that is set on an hill cannot be hid . . .” (Matt. 5:14). It we measure greatness by influence, the Christian is a great person.
Great Because Of Name. Names are important. Our name often, at least initially, suggests to others certain personality traits. What would be your first impression of a girl named “Tom” or a boy named “Judas”? I once knew a man who did not like the name assigned him by his mother. He felt his name did not do him justice; so he had his first name changed to Johnny to correspond with his personality and to effect a different initial impression on others whom he met. Beloved, consider the apostle Peter’s statement, “but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God” (1 Pet. 4:16, NASV). The name “Christian” involves ownership (belongs to Christ) and adherence (follows Christ – the greatest man to have ever walked this earth).
Great Because of Answered Prayer. I once knew a man who could ask anything of his wealthy father and his father would give it to him. When I was a young man, I wanted a 1957 Chevrolet. I never had one because I did not have a father with the ability to buy one for me. This boy, however, approached his father with his desire to own such a car and the father immediately gave the son a new 1957 Chevrolet (it was a red convertible!)
Friend, I am not attempting to compare the Christian’s heavenly Father with the young man’s father but have you seriously (not selfishly) thought about prayer? While God has not promised His children a red 1957 Chevrolet convertible, ponder the language of John, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight” (1 Jn. 3:22). Our Father stands ready to grant us requests which are according to His will (1 Jn. 5:14; Matt. 7:7-12).
What is greatness? Greatness is having a powerful, influential father; performing great work; exerting great influence; wearing a great name; and having a concerned, loving father to grant you what you really need. Kind reader, the Christian, then, is indeed a great person. Are you a great person? Are you a Christian?
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 2, pp. 54-55
January 19, 1984