Shadow Christians Living In the Image of Their Greatness: Your Red Carpet Is too Long & Your Spotlight Is too Bright

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the eighteenth chapter. “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” AND JESUS CALLED A LITTLE CHILD UNTO HIM, AND SET HIM IN THE MIDST OF THEM! EXCEPT YE BE CONVERTED, AND BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN, YE SHALL NOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! WHOSOEVER THEREFORE SHALL HUMBLE HIMSELF AS THIS LITTLE CHILD, THE SAME IS GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! WHOSO SHALL RECEIVE ONE SUCH LITTLE CHILD IN MY NAME RECEIVETH ME! WHOSO SHALL OFFEND ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES WHICH BELIEVE IN ME, IT WERE BETTER FOR HIM THAT A MILLSTONE WERE HANGED ABOUT HIS NECK, AND THAT HE WERE DROWNED IN THE DEPTH OF THE SEA! WOE UNTO THE WORLD BECAUSE OF OFFENCES! IT MUST NEEDS BE THAT OFFENCES COME! WOE TO THAT MAN BY WHOM THE OFFENCE COMETH! IF THY HAND OR THY FOOT OFFEND THEE, CUT THEM OFF, AND CAST THEM FROM THEE! IT IS BETTER FOR THEE TO ENTER INTO LIFE HALT OR MAIMED, RATHER THAN HAVING TWO HANDS OR TWO FEET TO BE CAST INTO EVERLASTING FIRE! IF THINE EYE OFFEND THEE, PLUCK IT OUT, AND CAST IT FROM THEE: IT IS BETTER FOR THEE TO ENTER INTO LIFE WITH ONE EYE, RATHER THAN HAVING TWO EYES TO BE CAST INTO HELL FIRE!

            TAKE HEED THAT YE DESPISE NOT ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES! IN HEAVEN THEIR ANGELS DO ALWAYS BEHOLD THE FACE OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN! FOR THE SON OF MAN IS COME TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST! IF A MAN HAVE AN HUNDRED SHEEP, AND ONE OF THEM BE GONE ASTRAY, DOTH HE NOT LEAVE THE NINETY AND NINE, AND GOETH INTO THE MOUNTAINS, AND SEEKETH THAT WHICH IS GONE ASTRAY! IF SO BE THAT HE FIND IT, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, HE REJOICETH MORE OF THAT SHEEP, THAN OF THE NINETY AND NINE WHICH WENT NOT ASTRAY! IT IS NOT THE WILL OF YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN, THAT ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES SHOULD PERISH!

            “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone! If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established! And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” WHATSOEVER YE SHALL BIND ON EARTH SHALL BE GOUND IN HEAVEN: AND WHATSOEVER YE SHALL LOOSE ON EARTH SHALL BE LOOSED IN HEAVEN! IF TWO OF YOU SHALL AGREE ON EARTH AS TOUCHING ANY THING THAT THEY SHALL ASK, IT SHALL BE DONE FOR THEM OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN! FOR WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED TOGETHER IN MY NAME, THERE AM I IN THE MIDST OF THEM!

            THEN CAME PETER TO HIM, AND SAID, LORD, HOW OFT SHALL MY BROTHER SIN AGAINST ME, AND I FORGIVE HIM? TILL SEVEN TIMES? ”Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” THE SERVANT THEREFORE FELL DOWN, AND WORSHIPPED HIM, SAYING, LORD, HAVE PATIENCE WITH ME, AND I WILL PAY THEE ALL! THEN THE LORD OF THAT SERVANT WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION, AND LOOSED HIM, AND FORGAVE HIM THE DEBT! BUT THE SAME SERVANT WENT OUT, AND FOUND ONE OF HIS FELLOWSERVANTS, WHICH OWED HIM AN HUNDRED PENCE! AND HE LAID HANDS ON HIM, AND TOOK HIM BY THE THROAT, SAYING, PAY ME THAT THOU OWEST! AND HIS FELLOWSERVANT FELL DOWN AT HIS FEET, AND BESOUGHT HIM, SAYING, HAVE PATIENCE WITH ME, AND I WILL PAY THEE ALL! AND HE WOULD NOT: BUT WENT AND CAST HIM INTO PRISON, TILL HE SHOULD PAY THE DEBT! SO WHEN HIS FELLOWSERVANTS SAW WHAT WAS DONE, THEY WERE VERY SORRY, AND CAME AND TOLD UNTO THEIR LORD ALL THAT WAS DONE! THEN HIS LORD, AFTER HE HAD CALLED HIM, SAID UNTO HIM, O THOU WICKED SERVANT, I FORGAVE THEE ALL THAT DEBT, BECAUSE THOU DESIREDST ME! SHOULDEST NOT THOU ALSO HAVE HAD COMPASSION ON THY FELLOWSERVANT, EVEN AS I HAD PITY ON THEE? AND HIS LORD WAS WROGH, AND DELIVERED HIM TO THE TORMENTORS, TILL HE SHOULD PAY ALL THAT WAS DUE UNTO HIM! SO LIKEWISE SHALL MY HEAVENLY FATHER DO ALSO UNTO YOU, IF YE FROM YOUR HEARTS FORGIVE NOT EVERY ONE HIS BROTHER THEIR TRESPASSES!

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find one of the most powerful chapters within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. As you come to this passage you will find it coming directly on the heels of Jesus and His disciples coming unto Capernaum. Upon coming unto Capernaum those who received tribute money came unto Simon also called Peter with a very important and intriguing question. The question Simon called Peter was asked was whether or not Jesus paid tribute unto Caesar. This is actually quite interesting when you consider another portion of Scripture found within the gospels when the religious elite came unto Jesus with the express intent of seeking to trap and ensnare Jesus. You will recall within the gospel narratives how the religious elite came unto Jesus and asked whether or not it was lawful to pay tribute unto Caesar. What makes this particular account so incredibly astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that Jesus’ response was one that not only shocked and stunned the religious elite who came unto Him, but it also silenced them. Within this particular encounter you will find the Lord Jesus Christ emphatically responding unto those who came unto Him with the intention of ensnaring and entrapping Him by declaring unto them how men must needs render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to render unto God what belongs to Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this particular passage truly is, for this passage calls and draws our attention to an additional piece of Scripture which helps us understand that which is before us in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. What we find here in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is actually quite astonishing and remarkable, for there is a strong link between those who asked Peter whether or not Jesus paid tribute unto Caesar, and the religious elite asking Jesus if it was lawful to pay tribute and tax unto Caesar. Essentially that which was being asked of Jesus and His disciples was not only whether or not it was lawful to pay tribute and tax unto Caesar, but also whether or not Jesus even paid tribute unto him.

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here bring us face to face with a powerful lesson in submission—and not only submission, but also submission unto government. What makes this passage so incredibly challenging is when you think about and consider the fact that while it was indeed true that Jesus came preaching the kingdom of heaven, and while it was indeed true that Jesus came to establish the kingdom of heaven within and upon the earth in the midst of the Roman Empire—Jesus never instructed His disciples not to submit themselves unto the government and authorities which were present in the earth. Nowhere in any of the four gospels will you find Jesus every instructing His disciples not to submit themselves unto the authority of the Roman government which controlled much of the known world during that time. Nowhere will you find Jesus telling His disciples that they did not need to submit themselves unto the government of Rome during those days and at that time. You will not find a single portion of Scripture within the four gospel narratives where Jesus instructed His disciples not to submit themselves to the government, nor even to the powers which were appointed at that time. The gospel narratives bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus was not only pressed whether or not it was lawful to give tribute and pay tax unto Caesar, but His disciple Peter was pressed whether or not Jesus even paid tribute unto Caesar. It is with this in mind I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which dwelt within the city of Rome itself. Consider if you will the following words beginning with the ninth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome:

            “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another: not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

            “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for God. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Ow no many any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:1-10).

            It is quite clear and obvious when reading the words which are found within these two portions of Scripture that the apostle Paul instructed, admonished and encouraged the saints which were at Rome to submit themselves unto the authority and the power that was above them. What is so incredibly important and powerful about this, however, is that the apostle Paul never declare unto His disciples that they were to submit themselves to those powers which were before them, but only if they agreed with them. The apostle Paul never instructed the saints which were at Rome to submit themselves unto the higher powers and those who were in authority if they agreed with the words which proceeded forth from their mouths, and even the laws, statutes and decrees which proceeded forth from their mouths. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and pay close and careful attention to these words which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke unto the saints which were at Rome, for the apostle Paul—as well as the other apostles of Christ, and the Church and body of Christ—were present in the earth during the days when Rome controlled and dominated the known world during those days. The apostle Paul made it very clear unto the saints which were at Rome that they were to submit themselves unto the higher powers, and would then go on to emphatically and boldly declare and proclaim that there was no power but of God, and that the powers which be were ordained of God. The apostle Paul would also go on to declare how those who resist the power, resist the ordinance of God, and those who resist shall receive unto themselves damnation. The apostle Paul would also go on to declare that rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. What I love about this passage of Scripture is the question the apostle Paul presents unto the saints which were at Rome, for the apostle Paul asked them if they would not then be afraid of the power. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul instructing them to do that which was good, and how they would have praise of the same. Moreover, what you find within this passage of Scripture also brings us face to face with the incredible truth of the apostle Paul using the same language Jesus used when speaking unto His disciples—“Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

            I find the words which are found within this passage of Scripture absolutely astonishing, for the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in Rome—although they were inspired by the Holy Spirit—were not his words, nor did they proceed from his own understanding and his own intellect. The words which the apostle Paul wrote—particularly and especially the language of rendering therefore unto those in power their dues—is directly linked and connected to the words which Jesus had spoken decades earlier unto His disciples. The words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome were directly linked and directly founded upon the words which Jesus had spoken unto His disciples, as well as the religious elite, for not only did Jesus instruct Peter to go and fish that he might find a coin with which he would pay tribute unto Caesar for the both of them, but Jesus also responded to the religious elite by declaring unto them how men must needs render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar’s and unto God those things which are God’s. With these words—not only did Jesus acknowledge that the authority which Caesar wielded and held was of God, but He also spoke of and alluded to submitting oneself unto the authority and powers which were present within the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely necessary this is for our understanding—particularly and especially during these days. It is most pressing that we recognize and pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for the words we find in the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew come directly in the face of the exchange which took place between Simon called Peter and Jesus. We cannot and must not seek to understand the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew without and apart from understanding the language that is found within the final verses of the seventeenth chapter. It is in the final portion of the seventeenth chapter we are brought face to face with whether or not Jesus paid tribute, and whether or not Jesus paid taxes unto Caesar—a question in which Jesus not only performed a miracle, but also did something supernatural that both He and Simon called Peter might not offend those who collected tribute.

            What I see as so incredibly unique about the words and language that is found within this passage of Scripture is that the language which Jesus used when speaking unto Simon called Peter was the language of offense, for Jesus emphatically spoke and declared unto Jesus the words: “Notwithstanding lest we should offend them.” Pause for a moment and consider just how incredibly powerful those words truly are, for not only did Jesus speak unto Simon called Peter of not offending those who collected tribute and those who were in authority and power, but Jesus also provided Simon with instruction on what to do to obtain that which would be used to pay tribute unto Caesar and unto those who were in authority. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close and careful attention to this particular truth and this particular reality, for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous responsibility Jesus placed on His disciples to submit themselves unto the government, and unto the authorities which were present in the earth. The text which is before us in the final verses of the seventeenth chapter are incredibly and absolutely powerful when you take the time to think about and consider them, for Jesus both spoke of not offending those who collected tribute from the Jews living in Judaea and in Galilee, but Jesus was also speaking about something at the very heart of that matter—namely, submitting oneself unto the powers and authorities which were present in the earth. With this particular portion of Scripture—as well as the text in which we find Jesus declaring unto the religious elite that men must render unto Caesar those things which were Caesar’s and to render unto God those things which were God’s—we find Jesus emphatically, wonderfully and powerfully instructing His and speaking unto His disciples concerning submission to the authorities and powers which were present during those times. What’s more, is that it made no difference if those powers were of Jewish and Hebrew descent, or whether those powers were heathen and Gentiles. This is particularly and especially true when you consider that Jesus taught His disciples that it was absolutely necessary to submit themselves unto the governments and authorities which were present during those days and at that time.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the final portion of the seventeenth chapter and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the tremendous truth that the words and language found here serve as a powerful backdrop and foundation for what is presented unto us in the eighteenth chapter. The words which we find in the eighteenth chapter begin with the disciples coming unto Jesus with a very unique and astonishing question. What makes the words found in the opening verses of the eighteenth chapter so incredibly remarkable is when you consider how the chapter begins with the words “at the same time.” We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how the eighteenth chapter begins and opens, for the words which are found at the beginning of this chapter seem to directly link and tie it together to the previous encounter which took place—not only between Peter and those who collected tribute, but also between Peter and his Lord. I find it absolutely and incredibly astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider the words which are presented before us in the eighteenth chapter, for the words presented here are directly linked and connected to that which we find in the final verses of the seventeenth chapter. The words found in this portion of Scripture deal exclusively and specifically with whether or not Jesus and His disciples paid tribute during those times—a question which not only spoke of paying tribute, but also whether or not Jesus submitted Himself unto the authorities and powers which were present during those days. In all reality I find the words which are presented here to be absolutely incredible and intriguing, for within these words Jesus both spoke unto Simon called Peter concerning not offending those who collected tribute, but also submitting themselves unto the government and authority that was present during those days. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for when the disciples came unto Jesus and asked Him who the greatest in the kingdom was, it came in direct connection and relation to Jesus’ words unto Simon called Peter and their submission unto the authorities which were present in the earth at that time.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with what would even cause the disciples to come unto Jesus with this particular question. I can’t help but think about how absolutely astonishing it is that the disciples would even think that the kingdom of heaven was somehow something where greatness needed to be defined. Moreover, I find myself being absolutely and incredibly shocked that the disciples thought and believed that the kingdom of heaven was somehow something in which men needed to attain unto a certain degree and measure of greatness. In all reality, I am convinced this question was actually one which placed a tremendous amount of responsibility on the disciples—and not only the disciples, but all those who would seek to align themselves with the question, and all those who would ask the question within our culture and society. In the world and in the systems of this world men vie, and war, and plot, and scheme, and jockey for prestige, for position, for power, and for greatness, however, when we think and speak about the kingdom of heaven there is no such reality present within it. The kingdom of heaven has never been, nor will it ever be that type of reality and manifestation within the earth where we need to aspire to be great—and not only even great, but also the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. It’s worth noting the disciples didn’t come unto Jesus asking Him who was “great” in the kingdom of heaven, but rather, they came unto Jesus asking Him who the greatest was in the kingdom of heaven. Oh there is a vast difference between the question being asked of who is great in the kingdom of heaven and who is the greatest in the kingdom. What’s more, is the question of greatness seems to suggest some type of hierarchy and system within the kingdom of heaven whereby men and women strive, attain, and work in order that they might eventually be considered the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This question was one which was sorely misguided and in all reality quite alarming, for the question which the disciples asked didn’t merely touch on the reality of who was or who could be great in the kingdom of heaven, but rather who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

            WHO IS THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN? Please don’t miss just how incredibly powerful and significant that question truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that the disciples thought the kingdom of heaven could indeed have someone who was at the top of it. The question which the disciples asked Jesus concerning who the greatest in the kingdom of was seemed to suggest they either believed that there was one who could be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, or that one of them desired to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Pause for a moment and think about the tremendous burden, weight and responsibility that is placed upon the shoulders of that one who wishes, seeks and desires to be “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven. Stop and think about the tremendous burden and weight such a question—and not only such a question, but also such a quest—would indeed place on the one who asked the question, and the one who desired such a reality within their heart and life. The fact that the disciples came unto Jesus and asked who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven rather than asking who was great in the kingdom of God seemed to suggest that there was perhaps one individual, or perhaps even one group of people who were considered the “elite” within the kingdom of heaven. We dare not miss and lose sight of this question, for the question itself seems to suggest and lend to the fact that there was somehow an elite or special class of people within the kingdom of heaven—those who were somehow greater than the others which were present in the kingdom of heaven. What’s more, is that within the religious system present during those days you will find the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees jockeying and volleying for prestige, for position and for rank among themselves. Not only this, but when you think about and consider the governments of this world you will find that there were men and women who were willing to do anything to somehow ascend to the upper echelon and ranks of power, title, prestige and greatness—something that would not at all be present within the kingdom of heaven.

            I have to admit that the question which the disciples asked of Jesus is actually quite astonishing and remarkable when you take the time to think about it, for the question they asked placed a tremendous emphasis on works—and not merely works, but that which they needed to do, and that which they ought to do if they wanted to attain some measure of greatness within the kingdom of heaven. The question they asked, however, was sorely and severely misguided, for the question they asked seemed to suggest and seemed to imply that within the kingdom of heaven one could actually “reach the top,” and one could indeed and could in fact be promoted to that place of greatness which was far above others in the midst of the kingdom. What makes this particular reality all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven being like a ruler and master who was preparing to depart on a long journey, and how prior to his journey he entrusted a certain portion unto his servants. Within the parable Jesus speaks of and reveals how this ruler gave unto each servant according to their ability, and how unto one would be given five talents, unto another would be given two talents, and unto another would be given one talent. Immediately after the master entrusted unto each of these servants these talents he departed on his journey—a journey in which none of them knew when he would return. I am absolutely and completely convinced that this parable must needs be recognized and understood, for within it is a powerful picture and illustration concerning the kingdom of heaven, and how the kingdom of heaven has no hierarchy, nor does it have any type of elite and ruling class in the midst of it. I feel the need to pause here and emphatically make that statement and declaration again, for the kingdom of heaven has no ruling class, nor does it have any elite class of men and women who are somehow greater than others. There is no upper, middle and lower classes within the kingdom of heaven, and even though within our own culture and society we have an upper class, and even though within our culture we have a middle and working class, and even though we have what would be considered a lower class—there is no such reality within the kingdom of heaven.

            What I so love about the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven being likened unto a master who not only went away on a long journey, but also entrusted unto his servants a specific measure of himself is that when you find the master returning you will find him offering the same reward unto that servant who invested and put to work the five talents as the servant who invested and put to work the two talents. Both servants were given the same praise, and both servants were given the same recognition and reward by the master—this despite and regardless of whether or not the one had been given two talents, or five talents. What’s more, is that I am absolutely and completely convinced that had the servant who had been given just the one talent invested and put to work that single talent—they too would have received the same reward as the other servants. In all reality, I would dare say that the master did not view one servant as greater than the other, and when distributing the talents did so based on ability rather than rank, hierarchy, position, and the like. WE must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and wonderful truth that these servants—regardless of what was given and entrusted unto them and into their care—would have received the same reward when the master returned and requested an account of their stewardship. This is something that is absolutely necessary and imperative to recognize and understand—particularly and especially when we consider the question which the disciples asked concerning those who were, and/or those who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The question the disciples asked of Jesus was not one that asked who could be great in the kingdom of heaven, nor even who was great in the kingdom of heaven, but rather who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found within the parable Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven and it being likened unto a master who entrusted unto his servants a certain portion while he himself went away on a long journey:

            “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. HE also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30).

            The words which we find within this passage do indeed and do in fact speak to the subject matter at hand, for within this particular parable which Jesus spoke we find each of the three servants being given a portion of what belonged to the master. That which each of the servants was given was done so—not based on who the master viewed as being great, greater, or the greatest, but because of the ability which each servant had. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs understand this, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that within the kingdom of heaven not only is there no hierarchy in terms of gifts and talents, but there is also no system in which we can climb and elevate ourselves to somehow achieve greatness. I am absolutely convinced that true greatness isn’t even defined in terms of what we ourselves can do in our own natural and physical strength, but how great the one true and living God is within us. We tend to think of greatness and being great as something we ourselves can do, and as something we ourselves can attain to, however, the truth of the matter is that greatness is and can only be defined in terms of how great our God is within us. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and incredible truth that within the kingdom of heaven there is absolutely no one who has been, nor is there anyone who ever will be considered great. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly powerful this truly is, for should we ever think of and consider ourselves as being great or greatest in the kingdom of heaven we are committing ourselves to a life of competition, striving, contending, and perhaps even quarrelling and fighting with one another.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering just how dangerous this question truly was, for to ask and even think that one could be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven suggests and implies that one needs to continually work, and needs to continually strive, and needs to continually do that which is necessary to get them to the next level within the kingdom of heaven. Was it not Jesus the Christ who declared that among women there was not born one who was as great as John the Baptist, and yet how the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than he was? When Jesus came to introduce the kingdom of heaven He had absolutely no intention of men and women striving and contending and competing with one another as they jockeyed and volleyed for position, status and prestige within the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven He emphatically declared that the first would be last and the last would be first, and He stated this particular truth and reality on more than one occasion. We must needs recognize and understand that the kingdom of heaven has never been, nor will it ever be about needing to jockey and volley for position, and those who think that they can and should somehow be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven have relegated themselves to a life of striving, a life of contention, and a life of competition. What’s more, is that those who think and believe that they can somehow be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven will always be looking over their shoulder to see if there is anyone who might be approaching their “level” and their “status.” In all reality, I would dare say there is a certain level, degree and measure of insecurity that is found within the heart and mind of that individual who dares think and believe that they can somehow be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. That insecurity is and will always be rooted in needing to ensure that no one ever rises to their same level, or even somehow rises above where they are. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this, for seeking to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is perhaps one of the loneliest places within the kingdom of heaven, for you are guaranteed to be unwilling to let anyone else be there with you.

            BEHIND THE PURSUIT OF GREATNESS IS ISOLATION! BEHIND THE PURSUIT OF GREATNESS IS INSECURITY! BEHIND THE PURSUIT OF GREATNESS IF COMPETETION! The more I think about and consider this the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that those who seek and those who strive to be great in the kingdom of heaven can and will find themselves in a tremendous place of isolation and loneliness, for they are absolutely and entirely unwilling to allow anyone to reach the same “level” and “place” as they themselves are. Not only this, but I would dare say that directly linked and connected to the pursuit of greatness is a certain degree and measure of pride and arrogance, as that individual will view themselves as vastly superior and greater than others. That individual who strives to be great—even within the kingdom of heaven—can and will see themselves and the relationships they once had, and those relationships they hope to have suffering tremendously, as they are unwilling to truly live in fellowship and community with others. Those who strive to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven cannot and will not be able to live, flesh out and embody the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints and congregation. Those who strive to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven cannot and will not be able to live out and embody the words which were written and recorded in the final verses of the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. Oh dear reader—I feel compelled to emphatically declare and proclaim unto you that if you are one who seeks to be “great,” “greater,” or “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven—not only will you live an incredibly lonely and isolated life, but you will always live a life of insecurity. To live such a life is to always be looking over your shoulder to make sure that no one is coming even remotely close to the “level” you are on, and you will do anything and everything to ensure that doesn’t happen.

            It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found within the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints, as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is with these words we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that if we are such who continually strive to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven we can and will be of most men miserable. I would dare say there is no joy, there is no rejoicing, there is no peace, there is no contentment, and there is no rest in seeking and striving to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Pause for a moment and think about how little rest and how little peace that one who continually strives to be great and greatest in the kingdom of heaven can and will have—something which is entirely and altogether antithetical and paradoxical to the words which Jesus spoke unto those who were weary and heavy laden. Jesus promised rest unto those who came unto Him, for His yoke was easy and His burden was light. Oh we must needs realize and understand just how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous absence of peace, rest, joy and contentment that is to be found within the life of that disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ. It was the apostle Paul who emphatically declared that he had learned how to be content in all things, and we must needs recognize and pay close and careful attention to this within our own hearts and lives. We dare not and must not be those who think they can somehow be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, for such a pursuit does not come without a tremendous cost and a hefty price. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the person who seeks and continually strives to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven can and will be that person who is unable to truly live in relationship, fellowship, and community with others, for everyone around them can and will be perceived as a threat to their “greatness.” We must needs realize and understand this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced there is no peace and there is no rest for that individual, as if there is any threat from another person to somehow be greater than they themselves are—they will immediately enter into defensive and attack mode.

            THE TREMENDOUS DEFENSIVENESS OF SEEKING TO BE GREAT! I sit here today thinking about and considering that one—perhaps even those individuals—who seek, strive and endeavor to be great. I think about those individuals who seek to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that such individuals can and will always be those who are defensive, as they can and will always take a defensive stance against those around them. If for whatever reason they feel threatened by someone else whom they believed is seeking to be greater than they are—they will quickly, decisively and immediately mount a defense against them. Those who think they are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, or those who seek to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven can and will be those who will always mount a defense against anyone and everyone whom they view and perceive as being a threat. Such individuals can and will be those who will do anything and everything to ensure that no one reaches their “level”—much less exceeds and passes them. Those who continually seek to be great, greater and the greatest will always be looking for new ways to enhance that greatness so as to ensure and guarantee that no one else before and around them will somehow attain unto their level. They will build walls and mount defenses against anyone and everyone whom they feel poses a potential threat and challenge to their greatness, and will strive and contend with anyone who might very well threaten that. Oh I can’t help but think about how incredibly lonely that individual who seeks to be great, and who seeks to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, for such individuals can and will be those who are unwilling to let anyone get close to them for fear that they might somehow betray them, compete with their greatness, and perhaps even supersede them. Oh how incredibly dangerous and tragic is the life of that particular individual who thinks that they can somehow be great, greater, and the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, as well as the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints at Philippi:

            “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the LORD added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).         

            “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of the same mind. Let nothing be done through strive of vainglory: but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11).

            The words which we find within these two passages are entirely and altogether antithetical and contrary to any need or desire to be great, greater and/or even greatest in the kingdom of heaven, for you cannot seek to be such within the kingdom of heaven and at the same time walk in fellowship and community with the body of Christ. It is absolutely impossible to walk in fellowship and community with those around you while you are secretly—or perhaps even openly—trying to be great in the kingdom of heaven. In fact, what makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider how in the gospel accounts it is recorded how the disciples at the last supper once more inquired among themselves as to who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The four gospel narratives point to and reveal the disciples’ misguided notion and vain pursuit of being greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and who is somehow greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Within the four gospel narratives we find in certain places how the disciples quarreled, disputed and argued among themselves concerning who among them was greatest. What makes this idea and notion that one could indeed and could in fact be greatest in the kingdom so incredibly vitriolic, toxic, and dangerous is that directly linked and connected to it can and will be a sort of disagreement and quarrel that will take place with anyone who would either argue your greatness, or will attempt to contend their own greatness. Seeking after, pursuing and striving to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven is incredibly toxic, for more often than not it can and will lead to the place of tremendous tension, friction, division, and separation between those who should be walking in unity as brothers and sisters within the kingdom of heaven.

            The more I think about and the more I consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth that when we speak about those who seek to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven—that which we are actually speaking about are those who are and who have committed themselves to living lives of tremendous striving and works. To seek to become the greatest in the kingdom of heaven suggests and implies this constant grinding and this constant laboring and toiling to either be the greatest, or to be considered the greatest. What’s more, is that when we think about and speak concerning one being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven we must needs also ask according to what standard that greatness is even defined. Perhaps it is worth noting that the disciples asked Jesus who the greatest in the kingdom of heaven was, however, when pressed with the question Jesus emphatically declared that unless they were converted and humbled themselves as the child He set before them they would not even enter into the kingdom of heaven. We have great need of thinking about and considering these words and just how incredibly strong and powerful they truly are, for these words bring us face to face with the fact that striving to be great will always carry with it the need for continued—perhaps even renewed—affirmation and confirmation. Those who seek and strive to be the greatest, and/or those who strive to be great in the kingdom of heaven can and will always need their egos stroked and the praise of others within and among them. That one or perhaps even those individuals who strive to be great in the kingdom of heaven can and will be those who will need constant attention and affirmation from those before and all around them, and will need continual support from those who would affirm their “greatness.” Pause for a moment and think about what type of life would be lived by those individuals who think that they are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, or even that they can be great, greater and the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I am absolutely and completely convinced that those individuals who think and believe themselves to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven can and will be those who will need the support and affirmation of others, and can and will always be seeking to secure that affirmation.

            I can’t help but be reminded of Jacob who was the twin brother of Esau born unto Isaac and Rebekah. I find myself thinking about and considering that when Jacob sought the blessing of his father Isaac—not only did he disguise himself with his brother’s clothes, but he also went to great  lengths and measures to even alter his appearance. Jacob—together with the assistance of his mother Rebekah—had goat hair placed upon his arms that he might give the appearance and impression in the presence of Isaac that he was indeed Esau. In fact—even when Isaac asked him what his name was, Jacob responded by declaring his name to be Esau. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this thought truly is, for in order to secure the blessing from the father—not only did Jacob have to disguise himself, but he also had to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. Perhaps this is what is so incredibly unique and powerful about the encounter Jesus had with the Father at the Jordan River, for as Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended upon Him in the bodily form of a dove, and the voice of the Father spoke from heaven and declared that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. What I so love and appreciate about this particular reality is that the Father not only affirmed that Jesus was indeed and was in fact His Son, but also affirmed His pleasure, His delight, and His joy in the Son. Please note that these words were spoken by the Father before Jesus had ever performed a single miracle, before Jesus had ever taught in the synagogues, before Jesus had ever preached concerning the gospel of the kingdom, and even before Jesus walked through and experienced suffering and the death of the cross. Please note that these words were spoken unto Jesus by the Father without needing to prove Himself before and unto the Father, and Jesus simply humbling Himself and taking upon Himself the form of man and the form of a servant brought great pleasure and delight to the Father.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that those who seek and strive to be great, greater and even the greatest have absolutely no room for humility within their lives. Those who seek to be great and the greatest in the kingdom of heaven will continually be assaulted and assailed by pride and arrogance within their hearts, and will find it incredibly difficult to walk in the same humility which Jesus Himself walked. Those who strive to be great cannot and will not give and yield themselves to humility before the LORD and care nothing for the words which James and the apostle Peter wrote concerning the need to humble themselves therefore in the sight of and under the mighty hand of God, and He would [in due season] exalt them. Those who strive to be great will always seek to elevate and promote themselves, and they won’t even wait for anyone else to do it. Such individuals will always be caught in this vicious cycle and rat race of needing to strive and contend over and over again, and there is never any place, nor is there any room for rest. Those who seek to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven have absolutely no room and no place for rest and contentment within the kingdom of heaven, for they will always be striving to do more, to be more, and to somehow be greater than those who are before and all around them. We must needs realize and understand this particular reality, for when we think and speak about those who seek to be great, greater and the greatest in the kingdom of heaven we must needs realize that they can never and will never be satisfied or content. There is absolutely no rest or peace for those who seek to be great in the kingdom of heaven—particularly and especially because their “greatness” will always be directly connected to and associated with what they themselves are able to do in and of themselves. Those who seek to be “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven can and will be those who will always be striving and contending—not only with others, but also with themselves—for “greatness” as we would define it is something that can never and will never be satisfied.

            It has been both written and spoken that one of the things that can never be satisfied is death—even the grave itself—and I would dare say that “greatness” as we equate it within our own hearts and minds can and will never be satisfied. What’s more, is that I would dare say seeking “greatness” and seeking to be great within this life can and will produce death with us. What’s more, is I am absolutely and completely convinced that those who continually seek and pursue greatness can and will find themselves in a place of being tired, weary, weak and worn out because of the constant need to grind, and the constant need to strive, and the constant need to do more, and be more, and go further, and go higher. There is never any rest for those who seek to be great because the very essence of “greatness” suggests and implies work, striving, effort, energy, time, and so much more. Perhaps one of the most liberating truths concerning this particular encounter between Jesus and His disciples is that Jesus never invited us to be great within the kingdom of heaven, nor did He ever set that expectation for His disciples. Nowhere in the gospel narratives will you find Jesus ever instructing His disciples and followers to seek greatness, or to be great, or even to be greater than others within the kingdom of heaven. This perhaps the single greatest beauty in humility, for humility frees us from the need and desire to be great. Humility allows us to make God great, recognize that He alone is great, and to let Him remain great within and through our lives. Humility liberates and sets us free from all means and methods of greatness, and sets us free from the need to be great within this life. Humility literally places all the weight of greatness upon the LORD and then steps back and watches Him work and watches Him accomplish what He can do.

            THERE CAN BE NO IMPOSSIBILITY WITHOUT AND APART FROM HUMILITY. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we seek and strive to be great within our own hearts and lives we completely, utterly and entirely leave God out of the picture. What’s more, is that we leave absolutely no room for impossibility, nor even for God to be able to show up and do the impossible. Those who seek to be great in and of themselves can and will be those who very rarely—if ever—see God move within their lives. Not only this, but I would dare say that those who seek to be great have absolutely no room or space within their hearts and lives for God to show up and do the impossible, for why on earth [or even in heaven] would God do the impossible through those who in all reality think and feel they don’t need Him? When we ourselves seek to be great in the earth—even great within the kingdom of heaven—we are in essence putting ourselves in the place of God, and are essentially exalting and elevating ourselves into that place where God alone should be. The more we seek and the more we strive to be great within this life the more we are forced to confront the reality that there is absolutely no room for God to work the impossible within and through our lives. Those who seek to be great, and those who seek to be the greatest have placed all the responsibility on themselves, and it is entirely and altogether up to them to fulfill and accomplish what needs to be done—even what they themselves desire within their hearts and lives. Oh we must needs realize and understand this, for humility completely and entirely sets us free from the need to do things in our own strength, and from the need to be great and to do great things. What’s more, is that “greatness” and being “great” also requires us to continually do “great things.” After all—how can you be “great” if you are unable to do great things, or those things which the world perceives as being “great” in their sight? Those who continually seek to be great and/or greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who entirely and altogether leave absolutely no room for God to be great in and through their lives, and they have effectively ruled God out of any equation within their lives. WE dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the fact that both James and the apostle Peter wrote unto their audience and instructed them to humble themselves in the sight and under the mighty hand of God, and He would exalt them in His time according to His plan and according to His purpose.

            Perhaps the single greatest truth concerning humility is that it frees us to simply be who we were created to be without any striving, contending and/or competition, and allows God to be who He is. Humility realizes and recognizes that we don’t need to take on the responsibility and burden of being great and doing great things, for at the end of the day it isn’t even about us or what we can accomplish anyway. If you are more concerned about boasting over those things you have done rather than those things the LORD has done you have severely and utterly missed the point. If you are more interested in those “great” things you have done rather than allowing God to do great things in your life and through your life then you are too big and God is too small. GREATNESS MAKES YOU BIG WHILE MAKING GOD SMALL, WHILE HUMILITY MAKES GOD BIG AND MAKING YOU SMALL! Oh the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to be small in the eyes of God, and even small in the eyes of God that God himself might be great and mighty in the earth within and through our lives. WE must needs be willing to confront this question and this issue within our hearts and lives, for until and unless we are willing to confront this question we cannot and will not truly be able to allow God to be who He is and who He needs to be within our hearts and our lives. Humility takes a step back and acknowledges that God alone is the One who needs to be and should be great, and we ourselves have never been called to be great. Despite the fact that Jesus said “greater works than these shall ye do because I go unto my Father in heaven,” we must needs realize that these words weren’t an invitation to strive for greatness, nor even to strive to do great things in this life.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering this matter of greatness and how Jesus directly linked humility to the child He set in the midst of the disciples, and one of the greatest things about a child is that a child does not seek to be great, but instead looks to their father or their mother as being great. A child does not have to worry about being great, for a child is perfectly content in recognizing that their mother or father is great, and that’s enough for them. OH how truly liberating and freeing it is to be those who allow God to be great in and through their lives, and have absolutely zero interest in striving to be great within this life. Oh how absolutely remarkable it is to be one who is able to—through humility—take a step back and simply allow God to be God. We do ourselves and God a great disservice and dishonor when we seek to be great rather than allowing God to be great in the earth. We do ourselves a great disservice when we think and feel that we ourselves need to be great, and when we ourselves need to do great things, and we ourselves need to be greater than God. The truth of the matter is that when we ourselves seek to be great, and we ourselves seek to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven we have absolutely no room for God to be great and for God to be who He truly is. Those who seek to be great, and those who seek to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven have in all reality taken the place of God, and have indeed and in fact usurped who God is in order that they themselves might be great and greater. Oh how we must needs realize and recognize that one of the greatest means and methods for the enemy and adversary to infiltrate our lives is through our pride and our desire to be great. We must needs realize and understand this, for was it not Lucifer who himself attempted to be great in heaven and to usurp the throne of God? Why would we think that the single greatest means and methods of his assault and attack within our hearts and lives is our seeking after and striving to be great? I am absolutely and completely convinced that this is what allowed Satan to be able to sift Simon as wheat, for Satan was able to access Simon’s heart and mind through the pride and arrogance—that which declared unto Jesus that he would not only go to prison for the Lord, but would also die for the Lord.

            We must needs realize and understand that humility completely and utterly liberates and sets us free from the need to be great, and from the need to do great things, for humility places greatness solely and squarely on the one true and living God. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—if God is truly great within your life then you yourself never have to be great. If God alone does great things within your heart and within your life then you yourself never have to do great things. If God is unable to do great things within your life then you yourself can and will always seek to do those great things. Is it possible that one of the main and underlying reasons why men seek to do great things is because God Himself is unable to do great things in their lives, and is unable to do great things through their lives? WE tend to think that there is a great need within our hearts and lives to do great things, and I am absolutely and completely convinced that the single greatest reason we seek to do great things is because we have not allowed God to do great things within our lives, and because God has not done great things within our lives. Those who have not witness and testimony of God doing the impossible through their lives, and of God doing great things in and through their lives will always be those who seek to do great things and find greatness within themselves. Those who seek to do great things and be something and someone great in this life are those who leave absolutely zero room for the living God to do that which is great within the earth in and through their lives. Think about it—if you are great, and if you can do great things, and if you have done great things, and if you can be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, then why would you even need the living and eternal God to be great and to do great things in your life and through your life?

            We must needs recognize and realize just how incredibly strong and powerful this truly is within our hearts and lives, for humility is perhaps that one virtue and discipline within our lives that actually allows God to be God. Not only this, but humility is perhaps the one and only thing that allows God to do what He specializes in. Not only this, but we would be incredibly shocked to think and consider how even our greatness falls far short of God’s impossibility. YOUR GREATNESS FALLS FAR SHORT OF GOD’S IMPOSSIBLITY! YOUR GREATNESS PALES IN COMPARISON TO GOD’S IMPOSSIBLITY! YOUR GREATNESS CAN NEVER AND WILL NEVER LEAVE ANY ROOM FOR GOD TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE IN AND THROUGH YOUR LIFE! Perhaps one of the most astonishing truths and realities concerning any greatness we think we possess or can achieve is that by all definitions—that greatness can and will far drastically and remarkably short of the greatness of God. Not only this, but if we pursue our own greatness, and if we pursue being great in and of ourselves, we leave the ability and opportunity for God to do the impossible in, through and around us. Tell me dear reader—why would God need to do the impossible in your life, through your life, or even around your life if you are able to be great and do great things yourself? WE dare not and must not think and even consider for a brief moment that we have any right to claim greatness for ourselves, nor even that we can do great things in and of ourselves. We dare not and must not think and believe for a single moment that we can and will be great in and of ourselves, and we ought not even pursue any form of greatness—regardless of whether it’s in our own hearts and minds, or from the words and actions of others. We ought not be those who sacrifice God’s ability to do the impossible on the altar of our own greatness. We dare not be those who sacrifice the impossibility that is found in what God can do on the altar of our own desire to do “great things.” Those who pursue their own greatness can and will sorely and severely limit God and what He is able to do in and through them. What’s more, is I would dare say there are men and women who are more familiar with their own greatness than they were with God’s greatness. Not only this, but there are men and women who are more familiar with their own greatness than they are the impossibility of God within their lives.

            I absolutely love that Jesus took and brought forth a child and set him in the midst of the disciples—specifically and especially when they asked Him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven—for by doing so Jesus emphatically declared that in the kingdom of heaven it is not about our being great, but about our humbling ourselves in order for our Father in heaven to be great. We dare not and must not forget that in the Lord’s prayer Jesus taught us to pray “thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We get so caught up and consumed with our own kingdoms, with our own will, with our own agendas, with our own plans, and with our own greatness that there is absolutely no room for the greatness of God to be demonstrated and manifested within our lives. OH dear brother, oh dear sister—please recognize and understand that you severely limit God when you seek to be great in your own eyes, and even do great things in and of yourself. WE must needs remember that those individuals who thought they were doing great things in the earth, and even professed and spoke of those great things as they stood before Jesus may very well hear Him declare, “Depart from me, ye worker of iniquity. I never knew you.” We must recognize and understand that our pursuit of greatness can and will always sacrifice the will of the Father, for in our pursuit of greatness there is absolutely no room for the will of God to be manifested and present. In our pursuit of greatness we aren’t concerned with the will of God, for the only thing we are concerned with is elevating and exalting ourselves in the earth. When we seek to become “great” in the kingdom of heaven—even becoming or trying to become “the greatest” in the kingdom of heaven—we are emphatically declaring unto Jesus the Christ and God the Father that we have absolutely no need of them.

            Please pay close and careful to that previous statement—the statement that when we seek to become “great” and “the greatest” in the kingdom of heaven we are emphatically declaring unto Jesus Christ, unto the Holy Spirit, and even unto the Father who sits upon the throne that we have absolutely no need of them and for them. Those who seek to be great in their own eyes can and will demonstrate by and through both their actions and words that they have absolutely no need for the one true and living God, and have absolutely no need for His presence and power within their lives. Oh that we would realize and recognize that true greatness comes not from within ourselves as though there were any great thing within is, for it was written in the Scripture that in us dwells no good thing. We must needs realize and understand that any and every pursuit to be great apart from and outside the living and eternal God being great in and through us can and will limit and restrict God in what He is able to do. Even those things which we think and feel we might accomplish and have accomplished in this earth has absolutely nothing to do with anything that is great within and of ourselves, but rather the living and eternal God being great through us. We must needs realize and understand that the kingdom of heaven is not demonstrated in our own greatness, but rather in the greatness of our God within the earth as He is permitted to move, operate and function within and through us. We have great need to be those men and women who are willing to through humility lay down our need, our right and our pursuit of being great in order for God to be great within and through us. We must needs—through humility—give up any pursuit that we have of being great and being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven as we realize that we don’t have to be great so long as the God whom we serve is great. We must recognize and realize that the impossibility of God begins where our humility starts, and that greatness—our pursuit of greatness, and even our own idea of greatness within our lives—completely and utterly destroys that manifestation and reality within our heart and lives. Oh that we would be a people who know how great our God is, and in that knowledge of how great our God is we lay down all striving, all contention, all endeavors, and all vain pursuits of being great within this life. OH that we would through humility allow ourselves to be completely and entirely set free from any and every thought and idea that we ourselves need to be great and somehow achieve greatness in and of ourselves within this life above and beyond allowing the one true and living God to be great in and through us.

            As I bring this writing to a close I would like to emphatically state that humility is so absolutely critical and vital within our hearts and lives, for it is through humility where we hide ourselves in the shadow of the greatness of our God recognizing and understanding that the single greatest place to be is in the shadow of our God. What makes this all the more necessary is when we think about and consider how the psalmist emphatically declared that those who dwell in the secret place of the most high God shall abide “under the shadow of the Almighty.” Humility not only allows the living and eternal God to be great, but it also places is solely and squarely in the shadow of Almighty God. Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider that perhaps the single greatest place to be is in and under the shadow of the Almighty? Pause for a moment and think about what shadows represent, for shadows themselves aren’t even the actual manifestation of the thing which they represent. When the light from the sun casts a shadow upon your figure and a shadow is formed behind or to the side of you it is not the actual manifestation of you, but rather an image of you. The imagery we find here is that those who dwell in the secret place of the most high God—I would argue the secret place of the most High God is humility—can and will abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Oh the question you and I must ask is whether or not we are content living in and under the shadow of the Almighty God. Are we content living under the shadow of the most high God, or are we too busy casting and creating our own shadow? So long as we attempt to be great and pursue greatness we can and will always and forever cast our own shadow, and therefore cannot and will not abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

SHADOW CHRISTIANS LIVING IN THE IMAGE OF THEIR GREATNESS! Oh we must needs realize and understand that we as the saints of God have not been called to cast and create our own shadows in this life, but rather to hide ourselves within and hide ourselves under the shadow of the Almighty. We as the saints of the most high God have been called to dwell in the secret place of the humility—a place which is accessed through prayer—and it is only to the degree and measure that we dwell in that secret place can we truly abide within and under the shadow of the Almighty. We have great need within this life to realize, recognize and understand that we have not been called to produce our own light, nor have we been called to produce our own greatness. Those who attempt to produce their own light, and those who have attempted to cast their own shadow of greatness before and all around them will eventually find themselves being completely and utterly absorbed by that shadow. Oh that we would realize, recognize and understand that the single greatest place to be in is the shadow of the Almighty which means the LORD is before us, and under the shadow of the Almighty, which means the LORD is above us. Stop and think about how absolutely incredible this declaration is, for this declaration wonderfully and powerfully suggests that it is possible to abide—and not only abide, but also find refuge, find a fortress, and be able to place our trust—under the shadow of the Almighty. Humility realizes and appropriates the shadow of the Almighty, for it not only places us behind the LORD, but it also places us underneath the LORD—the LORD who like a eagle will spread its wings and feathers over us to protect us. Oh that we as the people of God would come to the place where we cease creating our own shadows in this life, and begin to move, operate and function of the shadow of the only One that is truly great and greatly to be praised. It is only through humility that we as the saints of the most High God can indeed and can in fact allow ourselves to enter into the place where we can truly hide ourselves under the shadow of the Almighty, and hide ourselves in the shadow of the Almighty. So long as we abide in the shadow of the Almighty we can and will always be those will never seek to achieve our attain our own greatness, but will always live in the awesome and powerful reality that the only One who needs and the only One who deserves to be great is the Lord Almighty.

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