Apart from Him we can do nothing

God Is Not Looking For Greatness

God is not looking for greatness. Rather he is looking for humble followers.

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God is not looking for greatness from those who would follow Him. God is looking for humble servants who will love others with humble hearts.

But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” (2 Kings 5:13)

For much of my church-filled existence, I was instructed, guided, even emplored to want to know what God’s will was for my life, and how it could be discovered.

What Great Thing Does God Want Me to Do?

Whatever the intentions of those teachers, I began to see God’s will as some great and grand purpose that I had to figure out. Some mystery that would unlock my path before me. If they were teaching differently, it was being lost in the enormity of what was being described.

After all, if there is a “will” for my life that God has and I don’t know it, then that thing becomes the most important question for me to wrestle with.

The longer I went without having this incredibly important bit of information bestowed on me, the more frustrated I became. I began to wonder if I wasn’t good enough to have a grand plan. I began to beat myself up for not being smart or spiritual enough to discern the plan.

Part of the problem is that once I saw God’s will as some mountain before me, I imagined it must be a big task, and therefore a great one. Because, after all, I had been taught God had a plan only I could fulfill.

Now, God may have worked that way for some believers. Providing some grand call and purpose that was revealed to them. If we breeze over the stories in the Bible, it may seem that God works this way with most people who follow Him. But that is not what the Bible actually shows. Rather, the Bible reveals that God is not looking for greatness from us.

Why Doesn’t God Give Me a Great Thing to Do?

Today’s passage is where the script flips on a character in the Bible asking this very question. The entire story is found in 2 Kings 5, and a man named Naaman who found out that God is not looking for greatness.

Naaman was a great commander in the Aramean Army who suffered from leprosy. An Israeli girl who was a maid to Namaan’s wife – a person captured through an Aramean raid of Israel, no less – told Naaman’s wife about a prophet in Israel who could heal Naaman.

Naaman set out to contact the king of Israel with numerous, valuable gifts so that he could be healed. Upon being dispatched to the prophet – Elisha  – Naaman received a far simpler welcome than he imagined.

Elisha did not even greet him firsthand, instead sending a messenger. The message? All Naaman had to do was dip himself into the Jordan river 7 times.

Instead of being grateful, Naaman became upset that Elisha didn’t make a grand display of healing. Naaman even thought there were more prestigious rivers Elisha could have sent him to.

Eventually those with Naaman convinced him to be humble and accept this gracious gift. So Naaman did as Elisha instructed and was healed. He was rightfully grateful, but Elisha would take no gift from him.

Now, I understand Naaman was seeking healing, not direction from God for his life. But I believe we can learn something from this story in regards to seeking God’s will. Naaman discovered that God is not looking for greatness. But what does that mean?

God is Not Looking for Greatness

What I believe the story of Naaman illustrates is that God does not ask us to come to him with symbols of our prestige or position. We can’t buy his healing, love, or mercy with all the wealth we can generate.

Link to Pinterest pin image of man on knees, bowing in an empty room, with text that reads "God is not looking for greatness in those He loves. Rather God is looking for lowly, humble servant's hearts".God is not looking for greatness in those He loves. Rather, God is looking for lowly, humble, servant’s hearts.

We see this when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. At what we have come to know as the Last Supper, Jesus takes on the role of a servant and washes the feet of each of the disciples.

This was considered such a lowly job, Simon Peter refused at first to let Jesus wash his feet.

Jesus did not let the lesson go unlearned. He commended the disciples for calling him teacher and Lord (John 13:13), and reminded them that since He was willing to do such a lowly thing, they should be prepared to do likewise for one another (John 13:14-15).

Thinking about it this way, Naaman wanted to be the hero of his own story. But if we think about it, the true hero we find is the servant girl. Taken into captivity, given as a servant, humbled and lowly, she understood that God is not looking for greatness and showed true love by not only informing Naaman’s wife that he had hope, but actually wishing Naaman would be healed.

We Find God’s Will in Submission to Him

God may indeed call you to an understanding of His will through some great reveal. He certainly can. However, it is more likely that God will reveal His will to us through humbly submitting to His Son Jesus Christ.

God already reveals much of His will to us in the Bible. There we find many passages where the author is humbly submitting themselves to learning God’s commands and ways. Reading and taking in the Bible is one of the disciplines we partake in as followers of Christ.

Unlike Naaman, we must be prepared to submit ourselves to God in humility.

It is through our loving, humble obedience we are more likely to discover God’s will for us. Even when we are wronged, like the servant girl. Even when we find it embarrassing, like Peter.

So, if you ever find yourself concerned or anxious because you can’t seem to understand God’s grand plan for you, remember that God is not looking for greatness. God is looking for humble servants who are willing to follow His command to love and serve others in ways that nobody else would dare to.

Paul exhorts us to offer a “living and holy sacrifice” to Christ, and in so doing, God’s will is revealed to us (Romans 12:1-2). We may not get a grand plan, but it seems to suggest that when we follow Christ in humility, we will be able to discern more and more what God wants for us.

More verses that teach us God is not looking for greatness:

Psalm 25:4-5; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 66:2; Ephesians 5:15-17; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 3:12; James 4:10

All Biblical reference links courtesy of Bible Gateway, a searchable online Bible tool hosting more than 200 versions of the Bible in over 70 languages.

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