“Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit, since we are a great people, inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us until now?’”
The tribe of Manasseh felt as though they had been ripped off when the land was distributed. They looked at their inheritance with disdain because it seemed small, and they considered themselves a great people worthy of so much more. Joshua explained to them that the land was theirs for the taking and their greatness would be proven as they overcame the obstacles that stood before them. It seems pretty clear, Joshua and Manasseh had very different views as to what greatness really meant.
A few years ago, I was speaking to a group of Christian leaders in West Africa. During a break-time, a young man approached me, declaring he had received a promise from God that he would become a great man of God and be used mightily for the kingdom. I immediately sensed, while this promise may have been from the Lord, he was very confused regarding what it meant to be great in the eyes of God. We began to walk through the Scriptures together and see how Jesus defined greatness.
“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
In the eyes of Jesus there is nothing greater than patterning our lives after His. When we will take the low place, and seek to exalt others and their needs above our own, we have begun to walk the path of greatness. It is those who humbly walk with Christ, not seeking their own glory, but His, who will accomplish great and eternal things. Perhaps the biggest deterrent to true greatness is self. Self-will, self-protection, self-ambition or plain old fashion selfishness, will always stand in the way of serving Christ and others.
Joshua went on the explain to Manasseh that greatness was theirs for the taking. All they had to do was trust God and walk in the inheritance placed before them. I wonder what “great things” God might have for us, if we will set our own ambitions and fears aside, and simply walk as Jesus walked.