Freedom and Greatness

A Word to Consider - Freedom and Greatness
by Bill NeSmith

     True greatness is as elusive as freedom.   Freedom is not simply the absence of chains and bondage.  Some who appear to be free are still held in chains within their own heart and mind while not able to see themselves free from their current surroundings, culture, or environment.  So, too, greatness is not simply measured in accomplishment or position but is found to exist where many do not expect to find it…in the quality of character one relies on from within.  To truly be free, you must master an understanding of greatness otherwise neither freedom nor greatness will be securely within your grasp.

     Greatness is found by the humble or those willing to learn – the teachable ones.  Those who are able to build on their strengths, learn from their mistakes, make corrections where necessary, and especially able to receive correction from others (even when that correction is poorly given) will find themselves on the path towards greatness.   Those who are suited for greatness take every circumstance, whether comfortable or painful, and process it for their own growth and understanding.  However, when greatness is seen as a position to which one would aspire then greatness will often be missed because greatness is most suitable for the humble at heart.

     Many who are propelled into the limelight see this as a part of greatness.  Many miss their own destiny because in their quest to be enlarged in the eyes of others they sidestep their character development along the way.  All too often, it is pride that sets in and the lack of true humility that ultimately sidetracks them.  Don’t get me wrong, to be confident in who you are is not necessarily the issue but how you operate within that understanding is key.  Moses wrote of himself that ‘he was the most humble man in the world’ and because of his character he reflected neither pride nor arrogance.  He undoubtedly heard God say it first and therefore had no problem believing it. 

‘We don't dare class or compare ourselves with some of the people who advertise themselves. In measuring themselves against each other and comparing themselves with each other, they are simply stupid.’   (2 Cor. 10:12 CJB)

     The Apostle Paul knew well where to get His measure of worth or greatness.   It takes courage to face ourselves in the sight of God.  It is cowardice that compels us to measure ourselves against mere men.  We are encouraged to compare ourselves against the voice of God within us that comes from the Spirit of God and His Word and then we will have a sure measure of our own progress.  Our greatness is a reflection of God’s greatness or character within us.  What Paul is also saying is that greatness is not found in who you associate with, it is found in the way you associate with the ones you are with.  Only a few, other than Job, could have spoken of the greatness of God in this manner…

Look, God is great, beyond what we can know; the number of his years is uncountable. (Job 36:26 CJB)

     Job had come to understand that God is unimaginable and beyond human reason.  He learned of the magnitude and ability of God to hold back the very elements of creation, to put limits on the devil’s hand, and to bring His will into the realm of man as He saw fit.  Job also learned that greatness is unhindered by time.  Where we can often be pressed by time to get things accomplished, God is never rushed and that is a sign of His greatness, the character quality of patience.  The writer of Psalms describes God this way…

Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.    (Ps 77:13-14 NASB)

     His ways are always holy, or set apart from the rest and suitable for noble purposes.  God is not great because of His size, dimension or even His accomplishments.  He is great because His ways are higher than our ways.  He is great because of His character.  He is incomparable to other objects of worship because He is a living God who works wonders for the eyes of mankind and all creation to behold.  He is great because He uses His strength for the betterment, protection and overall well-being of others.  He is complete in Himself and suffers no need to measure up to others.    Our greatness is not found in our reflection within the eyes of man.  We become truly great when we learn to become a reflection of Him.

     Greatness is not found in the accomplishment of one’s hand but in the manner in which he gets it done.  It is true that great things can be accomplished or mastered but the accomplishments themselves can only be measured by impact, size or the challenges overcome in order to complete them. 

     For instance, the Hoover Dam construction was a great accomplishment because it was not done easily or with simple tools and talent.  It took knowledge and understanding along with the cooperation and input of many groups of individuals over the whole process from education to experience to concept to construction to the final commissioning.  The true greatness of the construction of the Hoover Dam was not just the dam itself but rather was found in the greatness of character and flexibility of the team or individuals that got it done.  Greatness is character-centered and character takes time to develop.

     Just as challenges overcome are a measure of greatness with regard to tasks accomplished, challenges overcome are also a good measure of the greatness of a person.  Our character is a measure of the greatness being developed within.  It is true that a person’s character can be developed within solitude.  But character is more rapidly developed while working alongside of others because friction and conflict afford us many opportunities to overcome the circumstances in which we find ourselves.   As we all walk through this life we are being transformed into the Image of Christ so that we can be a reflection of God and His character in the world.   Romans chapter 9 speaks of God as being the potter and of us as lumps clay being molded for His use (v20-21).  Not comfortable but His ways are not ours.

In Summary

     Greatness is not the measure of ones achievements but rather it is found in the measure of developed character reflected while working to achieve a goal.  Greatness is not in the results but in that which drives the outcome.  Greatness is character-centered and can best be developed while working with others.  A person who is destined for greatness is governed by an internal and Godly character that continues to stabilize his actions. 

     Many have aspired to greatness and found defeat while others have found it only to have it slip away at the end of life.  Greatness is more than what we do or what people believe about us.  Our greatness is the result of our willingness to reflect God’s greatness to others.  Greatness is not valued as one would value jewels but rather as one would measure fullness, wholeness and the completed work of God in a person.  Greatness is most often found in the relationships we’ve developed over time.  It is apparent in how we have more closely come to reflect the character of our Creator in Heaven, Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and that of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Greatness grows as we invite and allow Holy Spirit to mold, teach, guide, and correct us. 

 

Freedom and Greatness