For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21
Most of us think of greatness as something we can achieve over time. We might study hard to be top of the class, then work tirelessly to perfect a unique set of skills. Then we might pour our lives into making it to the top of our profession. When you finally arrive, you are great, or at least a great… accountant, salesman, athlete, preacher… whatever.
Our text for today, however, reveals a completely different concept of greatness. The truth is that the Lord made you great from the beginning. You were created a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:7). You were born great.
The only way you could avoid greatness was to diminish the greatness the Lord gave you. Sadly, that is the route much of the world takes. The first step in maintaining your greatness is to acknowledge it as a gift and be thankful to the Lord for it. And that is where we depart from greatness and head to nothingness. The text following our scripture today describes the downward spiral from greatness in terms of losing our gift. It uses terms like “became futile” (v21), “became fools” (v22), “dishonoring” (v24), “exchanged” (vv25 and 26), and “debased” (v28).
The way to be great is to maintain the greatness the Lord gave you. And the first step in maintaining that greatness is to acknowledge it as a gift from God and to thank Him for it. Acknowledging greatness as a gift may not be the kind of greatness we desire, but it is the only meaningful kind of greatness available to us. Greatness without God is worth less than nothing.
What if you were a great banker, lawyer, professor, or priest, only to find that you had a dishonored body, dishonorable passions, and a debased mind? Instead of the truth and goodness God gave you, you were filled with lies, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and maliciousness. Do not try to become great, my friends. Simply accept the greatness God gave you and live in thankful humility for it.