I’ve been thinking on the topic of Greatness for the last couple of days. It was triggered in my mind because I’ve been reading about and studying the life of David, someone who was truly a great man in spite of his failure.
I came across a verse in 2 Samuel 5 that jumped out at me. Verse 10 says, “And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.”
There is a definite pattern that we see as Scripture moves from Saul to David. It is easy to see through the life of King Saul what happens when the power and anointing of God departs…so does the greatness. Yet when David is anointed, the greatness increases.
If we want to be great (whatever that means and in whatever context we might be thinking), it can only be through the presence and power of God with us. So, a couple of questions pop in my mind:
First question: What is greatness? Second: What did David do and what did his life look like (i.e. what were characteristics of his life of greatness)?
Second question first. David was all about the glory of God. He wanted to honor Him always. He wrote his psalms in order to glorify God in his own life and in front of the people. When I sometimes think of greatness, it’s often embodied by someone who looks really cool; someone who has an air about them; a swagger maybe. Has the right dress and style, the right mannerisms and words.
David didn’t seem to be that kind of guy. First, he let his actions speak for themselves. He was courageous, taking on whatever was in his path, but he did it in the strength of the Lord, as the Lord called him to it…and for God’s glory. Never is there a picture of him going on the attack so for the purpose of looking good or to increase his own glory.
In summary, he seemed altogether unconcerned about how he look or came across to people. Perhaps that was part of his charm. When he danced “with all his might” before the Lord (and all the people), dressed only in a linen ephod (not very “KINGLY,” and probably not very modest, either), he must have looked like a fool (based on Michal’s comment), yet 1.) he didn’t care what they thought and 2.) strangely, the people held him in even higher esteem as a result! They respected him for who he was and the integrity and honesty of his life.
I think caring about what others think and wanting them to see us as great is a pretty common struggle with all of us. It’s difficult not to have that struggle, but does that not reflect on what we think about God and who He is?
Honestly, I think I will only experience greatness to any degree when I really just don’t care about it…but do care about God, fully.
That is greatness.
So, I guess the first question can be summarized by realizing that greatness is defined by God and is the outcome of a life fully controlled by Him. It is all about God and it is given by God.
To be great in God’s eyes comes only when He is fully in control of me because only He is great. David’s greatness was only when God was fully in control. When he sinned with Bathsheba, his greatness was deeply diminished.
Greatness, as defined by God, comes through surrender and self-sacrifice and a Christ-focus. That is not easily achieved when we constantly battle with this blasted sin-nature.
Then again, because greatness can only be accomplished by the Spirit of God working in me, it is a perfect opportunity for His greatness to be amplified even more and my glory to be diminished in Him.
Just like David.