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Elder Jason Malveaux
By Elder Jason Malveaux,Associate Minister, Bethesda Temple Church
Greatness is the state of being which produces a high quality and quantity lifestyle. Unfortunately, greatness is too often defined by what greatness produces as its by-product.
Many of us are, were, or will be sold on what greatness produces. For example, on the way to greatness, we may attain lasting friendships and love, financial stability and reduced stress, as well as a lifestyle that is the envy of our social surrounding.
Because we focus on the by-product instead of greatness' central endeavor, greatness becomes a stumbling stone offering only temptation away from the character of Christ rather than molding us into His likeness.
Yet for all its potential, the secret to unlocking the greatness which lies within goes, in large measure, undiscovered. Seminar after seminar, on weekend after weekend, book after glorious book, we chase greatness. As the fictional Don Quijote quested for greatness, we too have gone in search of the magic bullet that transforms our thinking and grants our lives extraordinary meaning and worth.
Jesus answered the question for us by simply stating, "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it." Greatness, eldership, importance, and magnanimity are unnecessarily illusive. Jesus graciously offers a remarkable, yet counter intuitive, solution. An explanation and application of the text will uncover the significance of its wisdom.
The actions being performed in the text allow us a clear view of the counter intuitiveness previously mentioned. Namely, "If you cling...you will lose...; if you give up...you will find." You would think that clinging would help you find greatness, but Jesus teaches the exact opposite. There is a common denominator, you.
You are performing the clinging. You are performing the giving up. You will suffer loss for performing the clinging. As well, you stand the benefit of finding it if you perform the giving up. The decider is YOU! Your life is affected by the choice you make to execute the verbs presented.
For example, your marriage, your children, your career, your financial stability, your stress level, and your personal feelings of well-being, can be greatly benefited or lost by choosing to cling to, or give up, any or all aspects of your life. Lest we think Jesus haphazard in this recommendation, He was careful to mention that, "you give up your life for me."
We are not giving up control of our lives to another fallible human being whose intentions may be suspect. We are releasing control of our lives to Jesus, who died for us. We are following His commands, depending on His wisdom, and being motivated by His spirit. We have released control to the Almighty, He who was dead and is alive forevermore, He who sits with All Power making intercession for you and me.
I Peter 5:6, ‘So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you." Choosing to take the way of humility does not, to the mind, produce exaltation. But consider how many great men you know.
They were likely humble people. They were people who chose to maintain an understated self-opinion. They were people who chose to serve, instead being served. They were people who sought justice and freedom for all people, not just themselves. Sometimes, they chose to put their lives in harm's way. They chose to see releasing their grip on themselves, their spouses, their families, and their money as a way to ultimately gain importance rather than the way to insignificance.
May each of you take it to task, here and now, to let go of the death grip we have on our lives, knowing that such an action only produces loss. May we turn control of our future over to Jesus, in part and whole, until our potential is released and the greatness within us is realized.