“Many people are called BUT few are chosen.”- Matthew 22:14
It is truly a tragedy that too few of us ever achieve the greatness to which God has called every single person that walks on this earth. Here is the truth! The same God who calls us and says, ‘You can be great’ desires to choose us to be great; He longs to say to each one of us, ‘You will be great’. Unfortunately, too many of us are either ignorant of the steps required for greatness or we are unwilling to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in doing the work required to be chosen.
Now, God in His love did not make us fully responsible for being great but made it a shared responsibility – our part being the easy part. Even so, just as Jesus had a part to play in being chosen after being called by God, we also have a part to play in being chosen. What part then do we play and what part does God play?
Without strategy tragedy is inevitable. From this episode we will begin to explore God’s five strategies for greatness.
Divine calling is God’s first strategy for greatness. This is purely God’s responsibility. While in heaven, God called Jesus and said something akin to: ‘Son, it is your time. I have now called you to partake of flesh and blood (become human) for the sole purpose of reconciling and restoring mankind to us. This is what I am calling you to do; ready to go?’ So, Jesus who is Spirit became a human with a living soul for the sole purpose of doing that specific will of God; the very reason we are celebrating Christmas. Likewise, just like Jesus, we are all spirit beings who have been called and temporarily placed on this earth to do a work and to achieve a purpose.
“For we are his workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus unto good works (purpose), which God has before (prior to being born) ordained that we should walk in them” – Ephesians 2:10
Greatness begins with the discovery of purpose. The first step towards greatness is to know the specific purpose to which God has called us.
If you do not know your purpose, do not despair. Just keep your heart and ears open and God will reveal His specific purpose to you in due time. Prophet Jeremiah did not know his purpose until God said to Him: ‘Hey Jeremiah, I am now calling you to be my mouthpiece (prophet) to the people of Judah. I created you specifically for this purpose and I am now letting you know that this is the purpose for which I created you’.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations” – Jeremiah 1:5
Note that what is important is God’s call on our lives and not our call on our lives. It is only God’s purpose for our lives that streamlines our life’s energy into a single laser beam focus that is able to cut through distractions and foolishness while bringing true and sustained fulfillment into our lives.
“It is only by following the will or purpose of God for our lives that we walk worthy of Him, fully please Him, and are fruitful in everything we do – for His power follows His purpose”- Colossians 1:9:10
Conversely, our lives fall into the learned behavior of idleness without His purpose (see 1 Timothy 5:13). Now, idleness does not simply mean that we are doing nothing. Busyness that comes from following our own purpose is empty in the end and so it is still idleness! Why? It is because idleness is defined as doing anything that is unimportant, insignificant, or holds no real worth. An example of this is idle banter where we are busy talking but our banter adds zero value. Since anything without God (love) is valueless and we know that God is great, we see that is it impossible to attain true greatness without God’s purpose (love) being involved.
So how do we recognize idleness? The symptoms of idleness (or lack of God-giving purpose) include being easily offended, gossip-mongering, being a busy-body, depression, never being satisfied, being a workaholic, dilly-dallying, lack of commitment etc. Just think of how these lead to broken relationships! So in reality, the root cause of many of the problems we encounter in this life is simply the lack of purpose or the shunning of God’s purpose. So we now see why Satan does not want us to walk in purpose (our responsibility). He knows if he can get us away from our purpose, he has a foothold in our lives and cause us problems. If you don’t believe me just ask Prophet Jonah how Satan tried to kill him and tortured his life simply because he ran away from the purpose to which God called Him.
So today, instead of continuing in idleness, ask God to show you what He has called you to do! If you want to be great, you must know what He has called you to do at this point in your life
It’s impossible to be great without following the great one!
DYNAMICS OF INTEGRITY
“He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.”- Proverbs 10:9
The second dynamics of greatness is the dynamics of integrity. Another version of Proverbs 10:9 says that the man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.
Integrity is all about doing the right thing, even when no one is looking! A person’s true character is not determined by what they do or say when they’re in public, but it’s who they are when no one else is around.
We’re all aware of one of the greatest tragedies in world history – the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 but what most people don’t know is that while the ship did in fact, hit an iceberg, that’s not the likely reason why it sank. Recent research has found that substandard construction likely led to the Titanic’s demise. And the real reason for the tragedy? Rivets- those tiny little pieces of metal that hold panels of steel together. Analysis of these rivets have shown that shortcuts were made in their production and that caused them to fail when the Titanic hit the iceberg.
While I’m sure that other factors contributed to this horrible event, the producer of the rivets played a big role in the loss of more than 15000 lives. Maybe the manufacturers thought they could get away with producing a lower quality rivet, maybe to make more profit, or taking less time to produce the high quality product. Maybe they thought that in the end, it wouldn’t matter and they wouldn’t get caught. But by not doing the right thing, the results were tragic.
What about you? Will you stay committed to doing the right thing, even when no one is looking? Are you taking shortcuts or not producing your very best work because you don’t think someone will notice?
Are you the same person whether you’re in public or home alone? I want to encourage you to do the right thing, especially when no one else is looking. When you do this, you’ll be applying the truth at work.
DYNAMICS OF EXAMPLE
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;”- Ephesians 5:1
If we want to be great, we have to follow the example of the great One; we have to follow in the footsteps of the one who was chosen to be great. I am careful to use the word ‘chosen to be great’ because although Jesus was called to be great, as a man, He had to show Himself worthy to be chosen! It was not until He had proven Himself worthy that everything was given into His hands (John 13:3). Although God called Jesus to save humanity (John 3:16) and then proceeded to equip Him with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16), God had to test Jesus before releasing Him unto His ministry. If you do not believe me, just read what the scripture tells us in the fourth chapter of Matthew.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1
See, it was the Spirit of God that Jesus the man was equipped with that led Jesus into the wilderness (into hardship) to be tested by the devil for the express purpose of seeing whether Jesus was ready for the mammoth task that was before Him. I love that Jesus did not shirk from this challenge. Jesus did not complain, moan, and groan at the difficulty that He was going to face like some of us do when any difficulty comes our way. Instead of complaining and perhaps ‘justifiably’ deciding not to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in going into hardship in the wilderness, Jesus simply yielded Himself to obedience.
Just because things are hard does not mean it is NOT God. God never promised it would be easy, He has promised there will be victory.
But Jesus did not simply say ‘Oh, well, God is sending me into hardship! He sanctioned this and it is all down to Him to save me.’ Rather than simply throw His hands up in fatalistic surrender, Jesus embarked upon a period of incredible preparation. The bible tells us that He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He did this so He would be prepared for the test that was to come. Yes, the preparation took a lot out of Jesus, but it was the same preparation that made Him ready to combat the test the devil threw at Him. Without this preparation, would Jesus have failed the test in the wilderness? We will never know! Likewise, when we adequately prepare for our God-given mission, we will not have to undergo failure. We may undergo setbacks, but we will not fail!
Preparation is vital if we are to enter into greatness; this part of the journey is solely our responsibility.
It is in preparation that most of us who are called miss the boat so that we are not chosen. Most of us are looking for favor; we want to be noticed by someone and be elevated without putting in the work to be noticed. Without preparing, we are found wanting when the test, which is simply an opportunity to show what we are made of, comes.
Jeremy Lin understood the importance of being prepared (being ready and staying ready). When he finally got his opportunity with the New York Knicks, He was ready to pass the test! He was worthy of what he wanted. Would he have been granted another opportunity? We will never know.
Preparation is what makes us worthy of the greatness we aspire towards, therefore, we should stay ready for we never know when God says to us, ‘it is your turn to be great’.
DYNAMICS OF FAITHFULNESS
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”- Luke 16:10-12
Having been equipped and prepared for the purpose to which we have been called, the final hurdle we all have to overcome prior to being chosen by God onto greatness is the test of our faithfulness and readiness. Even Jesus was not exempted from the readiness and faithfulness test. Indeed, the bible tells us that He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted (tested) by the devil (Matthew 4:1). It was not until after He passed that test in the wilderness that He was released onto His ministry. How do we know this? We know because the bible tells us that Jesus began to preach the gospel of the kingdom for the first time only after departing to Galilee – after His wilderness experience (Matthew 4:17).
The law of Test states that you have to pass the test in order to get the best!
Just in case you think the Test only applies to Jesus who was both man and God, I want to assure you that this applies to ordinary men. Elisha was an ordinary man who was put to the test before he became a prophet. After calling Elisha to walk with him for years, Elijah suddenly told Elisha to no longer follow Him. In essence, Elijah was telling Elisha that their journey together was done (2 Kings 2:2)! I can only imagine what Elisha was thinking at the time. I imagine it may have been the following:
‘I can’t believe this guy. After I have served him faithfully for years, now he is just dumping me…especially after I left my family and my livelihood behind’.
Elisha could have chosen to depart in rage BUT he did not and so passed the test of faithfulness. Later, when the sons of the prophets for lack of better words said, ‘Dude, your master is about to leave you man, why don’t you just go home?’ Elisha did not despair or say in his heart: ‘These guys are like top notch Christians, I will listen to them’. No! Instead, Elisha told them to hush their mouths (see 2 Kings 2:3)! See, Elisha was ready to follow Elijah wherever he went and so continued following him. For this, Elisha was rewarded with the mantle of prophet and a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
What does all this tell us? It lets us know that a hefty reward is the end of our readiness to follow Jesus to wherever He leads us…even if it is towards the wilderness. It lets us know that a prize follows our dogged determination to stay faithful to Him no matter how great the temptation. Thus, we have to start taking a look at tests and temptations differently. Rather than wail and gnash our teeth at another attack from the devil, we ought to look at it as a last ditch attempt by a frantic enemy to keep us from the blessing that God wants to shower upon us.
And here is the thing, the devil cannot stop us from greatness since we have been equipped with the Holy Spirit – the very power that conquered the grave and put the devil underfoot. Therefore, tests of the wilderness (where trials and tribulations abound) and of temptation should simply strengthen our resolve to push through by the grace (power) of God.
It is when we pass the readiness and faithfulness test that God says ‘Okay, I can choose this one for his/her love for me does not flick on and off like a light switch’. The bible tells us that many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). If we want to be chosen, we have to pass the test. In order to pass the test, we have to be equipped with the One who has never failed. In order not to fail at what we do, what we choose to do must be what God has called us to do!
Reflect on this as we re-enact the birth of Christ to reconcile man ith God. Merry Christmas and may the coming year bring you joy and lead you to your God-destined purpose. See you in 2021!