Links Daily Devotional

True Greatness, Part 10

“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11, ESV)

When I was 18 I won the Idaho State Amateur played at Hayden Lake GC a course lined with evergreens in Northern Idaho. Biggest thrill of my life to that point. The trophy was hip high. A golfer, gold-covered no less, was mounted on top, finishing his swing with a perfect follow-through. The trophy was so large that we had a hard time fitting it in the car on our way home to Pocatello, my home in Southern Idaho.

Immediately, I gathered all my friends to my house and showed off what I’d won.

Good things happened thereafter. Dave Williams, the coach at the University of Houston called me and offered me a full scholarship, which I accepted. I wanted to go on to bigger and better things. Build my reputation so I could go onto the PGA Tour to even bigger things. We had a great team. We won the NCAA three times. I won a number of college tournaments myself and became an All-American.

As I look back I was interested in one thing: recognition. I wanted to be great and had no problem promoting myself.

At 21 my life changed. I met Jesus Christ. He flipped over my life like Mom used to do with pancakes in a frying pan.

When I first read “among men born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist,” my forehead creased. Then when I read the following phrase, I shook my head: “He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” I knew this was beyond my understanding.

I have read these words many times over the past 50 years and I still do not claim to fully understand what Jesus meant. But I do think he was instructing us that the road to greatness does not wind upward, but downward. Just as Jesus put a little child in the midst of his disciples and said, “If you humble yourself and become like this little child, you will be greatest in the kingdom.”

An amazing thing about self-exaltation: you are hardly aware of it. I never realized what I was doing because I had no standard of reference as to what true greatness was.

Jesus pointed first to John as the standard of reference to greatness. Then to the one who is “least in the kingdom.”

John didn’t have to be seen. He was content to be just a voice. When asked who he was, he pointed to Jesus and said, “I am not worthy to unloose his sandals.” He lived by these words: “He must increase and I must decrease.”

The opposite of the way I lived my early days.

Then Jesus became the standard of greatness. He made himself of “no reputation.” Took on “the very nature of a servant.” “Humbled himself…” (Philippians 2:7-8, NIV).

“I have set you an example,” he said. “Do as I have done…” (John 13:15, NIV).

Jim Hiskey

October 24, 2012

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