When it comes to the world arena, greatness is easy to define.
Take Bill Gates for example:
- He inspired the era of the home computer
- At 39, he became the richest man in the world
- He also gave his money away! He set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and put 30 billion dollars of his own money into the same.
- In 2007, the Foundation spent over 2 billion dollars on global education and health initiatives
Then there’s the Rock Band U2:
- They formed in 1976 as a group of teenagers
- By the mid 1980s, they were a top international act
- They sold more than 145 million albums and won 22 Grammy awards
- In 2005, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Rolling Stone Magazine listed U2 at “no: 22” in its list of the greatest artists of all time
- Throughout their career, they have actively campaigned for Human Rights and Social Justice causes
If we just look at what these people have achieved, we simply cannot argue the fact that they have achieved some measure of greatness in life. Their statistics speak for themselves, but how do we define greatness in the Christian Life? Can checking or measuring all the achievements provide a clear standard for Christians to evaluate greatness?
Here’s a thought…
- The disciples have just come in from a long day of ministry. They are dirty, sweaty and could all probably do with a good bath. As they arrive at the venue where they are to share the Last Supper with Jesus, it is discovered that there is no foot washer. Now we need to understand that it was customary to have a foot washer employed to clean feet. It was a job given to the lowest of the low, the servant of servants! It was considered a demeaning job for any respectable human being to endure.
Take a look at what happens next in John 13: 3 –17
So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!” Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table. Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
What lessons do we learn from Jesus?
- We must be willing to fill the vacant position of “Foot Washer”
- We demonstrate humility when willing to take on a servant’s role
- Our actions demonstrate that we are psychologically secure in terms of our identity
- We must be willing to help others
- We should seek to serve rather than be served
- We are not fit to lead until we are ready to wash feet
- Servanthood is a disposition of the heart and spirit, expressed in concrete actions
In closing, GREATNESS requires us to make a conscious decision to meet people at their point of need whether it be reaching out to the sick, loving the lonely, feeding the hungry, connecting with the outcasts of society or serving in your local church! REAL GREATNESS = HUMILITY + SERVICE
In closing, consider this question…
When it comes to achieving greatness, whose expectations am I living up to?
Written by Ed Ellish