The Definition of Greatness

Matthew 18:4
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Greatness is usually defined as something better, higher, bigger, superior, more successful, preeminent. It is an extreme measured by comparison to others that are viewed as less than. It is achieved by rising above and doing more and being more than everyone else. So when the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, surely they were expecting a different answer. Perhaps they were hoping that He would say their name or thought He might mention some great hero from their nation’s history. Surely they thought the greatest in the kingdom of heaven must have been someone strong and mighty, someone who had done great things, someone who made great sacrifices and made a name for himself.

But as is so often the case, Jesus’ perspective is a little bit different and totally unexpected. Someone as humble as a child is the greatest in His eyes, someone who could accomplish much for God’s kingdom and bring Him much glory. Someone empty of himself could be filled with God’s Spirit and be used in many amazing ways. And it isn’t so much about what the person does as it is the attitude of their heart and their perspective on greatness.

A child looks expectantly to their parents to lead them, and a humble child of God looks expectantly to Him to guide their every step. They seek His will and His ways and surrender to them. They don’t seek their own gain or recognition, and they don’t see themselves as above anyone. They are there to serve and to give and to focus on others and to focus on Christ. And it is this kind of humble heart that the Lord seeks to use.

How are we defining greatness in our lives? Do we need to readjust our perspective? Are we willing to set aside the world’s idea of greatness and embrace Jesus’ viewpoint of it? Let’s seek to humble ourselves down to the proper level. Let us dismiss all notions of greatness that would place us above anyone else and refuse to pursue any kind of blind ambition that is self-serving in order to elevate ourselves. Let us simply serve God how He asks us to, submit ourselves to His leading, and then we will be great in His eyes.


2 thoughts on “The Definition of Greatness

  1. Yes! I wrote about that very thing in Stepping Into Greatness, which came from my experience in attending the funeral of a great man. We work so hard for things that are meaningless. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to see the true greatness in people instead of the worldly facade. And I’ve tried to re-focus my life so that what defines me is not my accomplishments, or lack thereof, bu my faith in Jesus.


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