January 7, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Cami King—now a friend of AMI—was first posted on March 21, 2015.  Cami served faithfully as a staff at several AMI churches in the past.  

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“What to Watch Out When Aspiring to Greatness”

1 Samuel 25:39-44: 

When David heard that Nabal had died, he said, “Praised be the Lord who has vindicated me and avenged the insult that I suffered from Nabal! The Lord has kept his servant from doing evil, and he has repaid Nabal for his evil deeds.” Then David sent word to Abigail and asked her to become his wife. 40 So the servants of David went to Abigail at Carmel and said to her, “David has sent us to you to bring you back to be his wife.” 41 She arose, bowed her face toward the ground, and said, “Your female servant, like a lowly servant, will wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42 Then Abigail quickly went and mounted her donkey, with five of her female servants accompanying her. She followed David’s messengers and became his wife.43 David had also married Ahinoam from Jezreel; the two of them became his wives.44 (Now Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.)

Most of us aspire to greatness of some form or another. Whether it’s in our professional field, in our family life, in our social spheres – we want to be great. The dictionary defines “great” in a number of ways, all of which contain something to the effect of being better than what is perceived as average. I mean really, who wants to be average? We all want to be memorable, significant, and noteworthy. Some of us have learned (from society or from our own failures) that greatness is out of our reach; therefore, we may have long given up on this yearning within us. But, I believe all of us can find a hunger for significance somewhere inside.  

I don’t think there is anything wrong with a desire for greatness and significance. But I am absolutely convinced that, if we were left to ourselves, we would pursue it in all the wrong ways and for all the wrong reasons. Not only this, but also our sin-diseased eyes often have a hard time even spotting what is truly great when we see it. 

Saul wanted to be great; he wanted to remain king and ruler over Israel.  However, Saul was threatened by David, initially because his constant disobedience to God led the LORD to reject him.  Instead of repenting, Saul did everything in his power to remove David from the picture. But what do Saul’s efforts, his pursuit of greatness, accomplish? Well in our chapter for today (of which we’ve just read the very end), Saul is literally reduced to a footnote in David’s life story – a parenthetical addition for background and context. It’s quite the opposite of greatness. 

In the life of Saul we see the result of our own selfish ambitions and vein conceit. Instead of seeking the will of God and the glory of God (as David did), Saul was so blinded by his own quest for greatness that he squandered away his rule over Israel – the calling of God on his life and his true shot at being great. Human nature is to pursue greatness through selfishness and for self-exaltation. We beg, borrow, and steal; we slander, murder, and manipulate; we hold tightly to our lives and lean on our own understanding – this, all in pursuit of significance and abundant life. 

But the truth is, all people are like the moon – our light is only as great as that which we reflect. If we are merely reflecting ourselves, then the greatness we can achieve is quite limited and temporary. And at the end we will be but a footnote in God’s great story. But if we instead seek the kingdom of God and seek to reflect the glory of our Heavenly Father, then we can achieve greatness beyond our wildest imagination – and shine bright enough of light the night sky.

What does “greatness” mean to you? What would it look like in your life? Take some time to reflect on your person pursuit of greatness – the means, motives, and ends. Remind yourself of our great and awesome savior, who said that the first is last and the greatest is servant of all, and modeled for us (in his life of self sacrifice) the true road to eternal greatness. May we spend our lives in pursuit of what is truly great, seeking to be a reflection of the glory of our great God. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to truly understand what greatness means to You and, therefore, what it should mean to me. May the new year 2023 be a year in which I truly aspire to be like the Son of God in his love and humility. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 7-8

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