THE PATH TO GREATNESS

 

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

1.       What makes a person great in the eyes of the world?  From the world’s perspective, greatness is measured upon:

 

a.       What type of profession or career one has.  The bigger the title, the more prominent you seem to be.

 

b.      How much money one possesses.  The more money you have, the more respect you receive.

 

c.       What size home one lives in or what type of car one drives.

 

2.       From the world’s perspective, greatness is determined by social status and material possessions.

 

3.       Brethren, I believe that we as Christians can easily get caught up in striving to be great in the eyes of the world (by spending all of our time and energy pursuing after social statues and material possessions) instead of pursuing after God’s Will.

 

§         For the Bible says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world -- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what He has and does -- comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:15-17).

 

4.       This passage reveals that we are not to put worldly things first in our lives.  Because if we do, God knows that we will be so wrapped up in the pursuit of external things that we will put Him second place in our lives.

 

5.       The Question that we need to ask is:

 

a.       Do I Want To Be Great In The Eyes Of The World?

 

b.      Do I Want To Be Great In The Eyes Of God?

 

THIS MORNING, I AM GOING TO PRESENT TWO POINTS ON HOW WE CAN BECOME GREAT IN THE EYES OF GOD.

 

I.                           FIRST, TO BE GREAT IN THE EYES OF GOD, WE MUST DESCEND INTO GREATNESS.

 

1.       What does it mean to descend into greatness?

 

2.       The only way to understand what this means is to look at how Jesus descended into greatness.

 

§         If you have your new testaments handy, please read with me (Phil. 2:5-7). "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross.  Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

 

3.       Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus Christ (who is God) “made himself nothing” by becoming a servant.  It is interesting to note that the text does not say that He made himself famous, or rich, instead, it says that He made himself nothing. 

 

a.      The Greek Word for “nothing” (keno) means “to empty."  Jesus emptied himself for us.

 

4.       Now Think about this a moment.

 

a.       Before Jesus Christ came down to earth, He held the highest position of all the universe (He was the CEO of Heaven).

 

(1)     He was the ultimate object of praise; the Creator of the World. 

 

§         In heaven you can imagine the angels flocking around his throne saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

 

b.      Jesus, the One worthy of all worship and the source of all power descended down from heaven upon the world as a helpless baby in a dirty animal stable.

 

c.       Jesus, the giver of life came down from heaven and spent time with the low class of His society.

 

d.      Jesus, the king of kings came down from heaven not to sit on His throne and receive service  but He came to serve.  He even got down on his knees and washed the feet of His disciples.

 

e.       The One who held the highest position of all came to serve the lowest.

 

f.         Jesus the most righteous person of all time died on a cross as a condemned criminal.

 

5.       Jesus the One who possessed everything became nothing. And God was so pleased with what Jesus had accomplished, “He exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.”

 

6.       My Friends if we want to be great in the eyes of God, then we must descend into greatness just like Jesus did.  We are to become humble servants.

 

7.       Although the world wants us to become something and descend “upward", by possessing wealth & power, God's idea of greatness is just the opposite.  Greatness is measured by our service to others.

 

§         In (Matthew 20:26-28) Jesus made this statement to His disciples: "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

 

8.       If we want to be great in the eyes of God, then Jesus is saying that we must become a servant like Him.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, is a man who has descended into greatest.

 

Mr. Carter, who at one time held the highest position in our country, now spends the majority of his time serving and helping the poor. 

 

He could easily be spending his time going around the country making thousands of dollars making public speeches.  But instead, he chooses to spend his time building houses for the less fortunate.  He has descended into Greatest by becoming a servant.

 

9.       If we want to be great in the eyes of God, then we need to descend into greatness by becoming a humble, and lowly servant.

 

II.                         SECOND, TO BE GREAT IN THE EYES OF GOD, WE MUST DESCEND OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE.

 

1.           What does it mean to live in a comfort zone?

 

2.           Living in a comfort zone means living a life that is:

 

a.       Full of routines…

 

b.      A life with very few surprises; and

 

c.       A life with minimal inconveniences.

 

3.           Lets face it, we are a people who spend the majority of our time doing what we want to do instead of what God wants us to do.

 

4.           We can get so caught up in watching television during the weeknights that we do not have time to serve others.

 

5.           We can get so caught up working 10 to 14 hour days at our jobs that we do not have time to do the Lord’s work.

 

6.           See when we hibernate totally into our comfort zone, we descend not into greatness, but into idleness and laziness.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

On one occasion, Jesus told a parable about a servant who was given one talent (of money) from his master.  But instead of the servant putting his talent to work, he dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

 

And since the servant had the opportunity  to multiply his master’s wealth but chose not to, he proved himself unfaithful.  Therefore the master said, (Mt. 25:26) “You wicked, lazy servant."  Then in verse 30 the master said, “throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness; where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

7.           One point to this story is that if we as Christians bury our time, abilities, talents, and obligations-- meaning that we are so wrapped up in our comfort zone that we do not do what God wants us do which is to serve others, then we are no better off than that “wicked lazy servant” who received no inheritance in the kingdom of God.

 

8.           If we want to be great and acceptably in the eyes of God, then we must descend out of our comfort zone and be willing to sacrifice our time to serve others.

 

9.           Each day, God calls us to follow; to descend:  He calls us:

 

a.       to call and encourage a friend,

b.      share Christ with a neighbor,

c.       spend time with our families,

d.      give money to someone in need,

e.       pray for the sick and visit them.

 

10.      It takes a willful, conscious decision to move out of the comfort zone and down the paths of greatness.  Are you willing to make the sacrifice?

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Larry was a truck driver, but his lifelong dream was to fly.  When he graduated from high school, he joined the Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot.  Unfortunately, poor eyesight disqualified him.  So when he finally left the service, he had to satisfy himself with watching others fly the fighter jets that crisscrossed the skies over his backyard.  As he sat there in his lawn chair, he dreamed about the magic of flying.

 

Then one day, Larry Walters got an idea.  He went down to the local army-navy surplus store and bought a tank of helium and forty-five weather balloons.  These were not your brightly colored party balloons, these were heavy-duty spheres measuring more than four feet across when fully inflated.

 

Back in his yard, Larry used straps to attach the balloons to his lawn chair, the kind you might have in your own back yard.  He anchored the chair to the bumper of his jeep and inflated the balloons with helium.  Then he packed some sandwiches and drinks and loaded a BB gun, figuring he could pop a few of those balloons when it was time to return to earth.

 

His preparations complete, Larry Walters sat in his chair and cut the anchoring cord.  His plan was that after he enjoyed some flying time to lazily float back down to earth.  But things didn't quite work out that way.

 

When Larry cut the cord, he didn't float lazily up; he shot up as if fired from a cannon.  Nor did he go up a couple hundred feet.  He climbed and climbed until he finally leveled off at eleven thousand feet.  At that height, he could hardly risk deflating any of the balloons, let he unbalance the load and really experience flying.  So he stayed up there, sailing around for fourteen hours, totally at a loss as to how to get down.

 

Eventually, Larry drifted into the approach corridor for Los Angeles International Airport.  A Pan Am pilot radioed the tower and told the air traffic controller that he had just passed a guy in a lawn chair at eleven thousand feet who had a gun in his lap.

 

Eventually, a Navy helicopter dropped a rescue line over Larry, and gradually hauled him back to earth.  As soon as Larry hit the ground, he was arrested.  But as he was being led away in handcuffs, a television reporter called out, "Mr. Walters, why'd you do it?"  Larry stopped, eyed the man, then replied nonchalantly, "A man can't just sit around."

 

Larry's statement has a message for us.  We can not sit around any longer.  We need to get out of our comfort zone and go make a difference in the lives of others.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

1.       In closing, if we want to be great in the eyes of God then we need to “Descend into Greatness” by becoming a servant like Jesus.

 

2.       On the day of judgement, Jesus will not be concerned with how much money we made while on earth;, or how many material possessions we acquired;, or how prominent we became.

 

3.       Instead, on the day of judgement, the Bible teaches that Jesus will be wondering:

 

a.       If we fed those who were hungry.

 

b.      If we gave others a drink when they were thirsty.

 

c.       If we gave clothes to those who needed them.

 

d.      If we looked after people who were sick.

 

4.       If you have fallen in the trap of striving to be great in the eyes of the world by spending all of your time and energy pursuing after social status and material possessions, your not alone.

 

5.       However, its time to get back on track and get your priorities in order by looking to please our heavenly Father and not the world.  Remember the way up is down, the way to greatness is to descend.

 

6.       If you are subject to the Lord's invitation, please come now as we stand and sing.