The Meaning of Greatness

Scripture Passage: Matthew 18:1-6

According to history, 114 world leaders have added the world “great” to their name, as Herod the Great or Alexander the Great. Tony the Tiger boasted that Frosted Flakes were great! We also have Great Lakes and a Great Barrier Reef.

What is greatness? What makes someone great?

The disciples asked Jesus an interesting question about greatness: “So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answered by pointing to a child. He didn’t call a professor to demonstrate knowledge, or a ruler to demonstrate position, or an old man to demonstrate experience, or a rich man to demonstrate wealth. He pointed to a child!

We can understand true greatness when we see why Jesus focused on children.

1. Greatness is demonstrated in child-like dependence.
In Jesus’ day, children were viewed as having little importance, no authority, and as someone to be looked after rather than looked up to. There’s really nothing a child can take credit for without acknowledging that the resources, power, protection, and ability to do it came from his parents.

Salvation happens when we realize our total inability to justify ourselves by our own good works, and we instead place our trust in Jesus.

• What lessons can you glean from watching the dependence of children on their parents?

2. Greatness is demonstrated in child-like boldness.
Jesus said, “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child — this one is the greatest in the kingdom. Notice that twice Jesus referred specifically to the child in His lap by saying “this child.” This was a child who was seeking to be near Jesus.

Your measure of boldness will be determined by your sense of security in Jesus. If you’re insecure, you’ll be fearful. If you’re secure, you’re be bold.

• How would you rate your boldness? How can you become a bolder follower of Jesus?

If you seek greatness through only dependence, but you never respond boldly to the calling he gives you, you will miss out on so many blessing He has for you!

If you seek greatness through only boldness, but you think you can pull this off on your own, you end up failing miserably in the long run. You’re a flash in the pan, because your weakness is eventually exposed, no matter how bold you are.

• When you seek the Lord, are you willing to come as a child?

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