What does the Bible say about being “great”? Jesus was great! And we are to be like Jesus! What are the biblical principles that should guide all Christians in their quest to be “great”?
The definition of “great”: excellently; very well; of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average. (Source: The Google)
What does it mean to be “great” – biblically, in the Christian’s context?
Being great means to:
- live intensely, with ardent obedience to Christ, with great holiness
- live life to the extreme outer edge of born-again possibilities
- act with excellence in all things, to please Christ who saves sinners
- obey God above and beyond what other’s may expect
Being great means being a true disciple of Jesus:
John 8:31-32 Amplified Bible (AMP)
31 So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples. 32 And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].”
Being great means always striving to be the best that I can be. I always work at being a person of example, “a little Christ” (the literal meaning of “Christian”). I often don’t succeed in this striving… but I work at it!
17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
In spite of any difficult circumstances, disadvantages, poverty, personal character quirks, weaknesses (‘the sin that easily besets you…’) illness and disease – whether genetic or somehow caught, or whatever… a “great” person will persevere in the faith, stand strong in Christ, and deliver righteous living for Christ.
Being great means being content with whatever condition I find myself in, wherever, whatever:
Being great means being full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
“…put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”
Being great means working for a living – as if I am working for Christ Himself. As Christians we are to look at our job as a place to be living-out our faith, being honest, loyal, diligent, not complaining, not lying, not gossiping, not maligning others.
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you [f]keep away from every brother who [g]leads an [h]unruly life and not according to the tradition which [i]you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to [j]follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat [k]anyone’s bread [l]without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would [m]follow our example. 10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
14 If anyone does not obey our [n]instruction [o]in this letter, take special note of that person [p]and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but [q]admonish him as a brother.
The Bible teaches that if you are sick, disabled, too old, or unable to work, then others are to watch-out for you and care for your needs. That is why America has welfare, retirement benefits, health insurance, and such. But if you are fit and able… the Bible says you are to work for a living. If you are able to work, then taking stipends from the government is dishonest, and not great at all.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 [s]But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know [t]which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy [u]in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one [v]mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Being great means I no longer live for myself. I live for Christ. I do so because of this:
Romans 8:1 AMP – Amplified version
Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].
2 Corinthians 5: verses 14-15
|14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
Being great means seriously being Christ’s ambassador. Whatever I do, I “do” as a representative of Christ on earth. Whatever I say and declare and promise, whatever acts I attempt or actually am able to accomplish… I do all I do as His disciple, to be pleasing to Him — because He has saved me from hell and damnation. That’s a hell of a lot to be thankful for!
2 Corinthians 5: verses 17-19
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Being great means being the true disciple of Christ, truly “following“. I will not allow anything in my life to supersede Christ’s teachings found in the Bible: NOT my race, politics, economics, lifestyle, neighborhood, sub-culture, upbringing, education, etc. Nothing trumps Christ. True believers follow His Word, obedient to Him:
- even when it is counter-cultural
- even when following Him earns the scorn of those around us
- even when our neighborhood is hostile to Christians
- even when to do so means family and friends reject us
- even if it means they kill you for being “different”, for being a Christian
Being great means following Christ to the death. The Bible is full of examples of disciples obedient to the death. Read Hebrews 11 (Amplified version), the Hall of Fame, what the world would call “The Hall of Shame”… because truly following Christ is always contrary to the world’s ways. At times I can’t be like everyone around me, because to do so would be to disobey the written Word of God. There is nothing more important than being true to Jesus.
Being great means being single-minded in my approach to living-out my life as a disciple, a follower of Christ.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Being great means – not wanting to be important! When the disciples were arguing about being the greatest amongst them, Jesus sat them down and taught them about being a servant of all:
Being great means to be thinking of others as more important than I, looking-out for their interests.
Being great means not exerting authority over others, not being authoritative in my relationships, but instead always serving to bring joy to others, to improve their lot in life, to help others be all they can be – as unique individuals (not as copies of myself).
Being great means humbling myself. Jesus Himself emptied Himself, humbling Himself – to come down to earth and die horribly — on our behalf. Jesus, the Creator God, gave up His authority, gave up His rights – because of His love for us.
Philppians 2: verses 2-8
2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
How many leaders in your church have an attitude of being “last of all [in importance]”? Is that your attitude? Are your pastors and elders truly being “a servant of all”? Or do they “lord it over you….”?
Our tendency as Christians is to follow the examples of how worldly leaders and unsaved leaders “lead”. But the biblical Christian is to follow the lead of Christ. The Christian who leads like Christ will:
- Be a servant of all Mark 9:35
- Be last of all in importance Mark 9:35
- Be an example 1 Peter 5:3
- Not lord it over others Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42
- Not exercise authority over others Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42
- Not be arrogant 2 Corinthians 12:20
- Not be full of or generate in others …strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances 2 Corinthians 12:20
2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;
Being great means being a person of “character and courage”, “standing firm”, being “spiritually mature”, and totally convinced about what is the true will of God for me as His disciple (“follower”).
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Being great means being yielded to God, full of His Spirit.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit
Being great means maintaining behavior that is holy.
1 Peter 1:15-16
15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Being great as a Christian is almost opposite of what the world thinks as “great”. But that makes sense, since we are not of this world! If we are in Christ, we want to be great, like Christ. Are you of this world, or is your citizenship in heaven?
For our citizenship
is in heaven,
from which also
we eagerly wait for a Savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ
Philippians 3: verses 12-16
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect,
but I press on
so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind
and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on
toward the goal
for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3: verses 17-21
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.