The definition of greatness

What is the definition of greatness? The answer to that question will depend upon whom or what you esteem.

Muhammed Ali some years ago, at the very pinnacle of his athletic prowess said, “I am the greatest.” And he was certainly one of the greatest boxers of all time.

In the Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul writes: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3, ESV)

The apostle had just reminded his readers in the previous verse to “… not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. ...”

Even Jesus’ disciples were unclear and high-minded as to the real answer to our question above; they argued about which one of them was the greatest even on the night Jesus was betrayed. So we see two possible definitions of “greatness,” one worldly and material and the other spiritual.

Dear reader, how do you define greatness? Is it by a passionate devotion to the things of the world, or is it by The Imitation of Christ, (Thomas a Kempis, d.1471). Kempis was urging his readers to look to Jesus Christ as their great model and savior.

And finally, in the Apostle John’s First Epistle we read, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15, 16, ESV)

Therefore, dear reader, how you define greatness will have, ultimately, eternal consequences — something worth thinking about in the present.

Christianson serves as pastor at Grace Reformed Church in Clarkston.

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