I See Greatness in You!
This morning as I turned off East Jefferson to the I-75 Freeway in Detroit I saw an odd sight. Standing in the median was a young, well dressed African American male, standing and pointing to a homemade sign that simply read, “I see greatness in you! Almost oblivious to all around him, the young man turned in circles, pointing to his sign from every possible direction. There are a lot of people begging at the entrance to the freeway, but I cannot recall seeing a person standing in the median on Jefferson at an awkward junction.
As I started to focus on the young man’s sign, it dawned upon me almost instantly that he had a better way of saying what I want to preach about on Sunday. My sermon Sunday is about personal exaltation and what it takes in the eyes of the Lord to be a success, both in this world and in the world to come. In Matthew 23, Jesus taught that if we are to be great we must also become like a servant. Attempts at personal exaltation will force us to run ourselves into the ground and ultimately disappoint God.
Evidently the Scribes and Pharisees must have really ticked Jesus off. Most of chapter 23 has Jesus telling them that their spiritual focus is all wrong. Take a look at what Jesus says about the misplaced spiritual values of these two groups of people:
-Matthew 23: 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19 How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; 21 and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; 22 and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. 
Jesus point is that unless you and I become like servants, and not simple hustlers to make a quick dollar in the short run, we will never reach the expectation of God and to receive personal exaltation. I think about the man I saw on the street corner this morning with his simple, powerful sign- “I see greatness in you!”
God sees greatness in each of us. However, our greatness will not be determined by how fast we run or high we jump. Our greatness will be defined by the degree to which we love and serve others in the spirit of Jesus Christ. So, the question I challenge you with this evening is this- are you prepared to serve others, or is your desire that others might serve you?
Matthew 23: 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. 
Questions for Reflection:
- Why do you think Jesus taught that “All who exalt themselves will be humbled?”
- How can those who “Humble themselves be exalted”?
Prayer: Lord, teach me to serve others as you have served the world. Teach me to give without thought of receiving. Teach me to listen to the needs of others and to feel their joy and pain. Lord, I exalt you and lift you up as I seek to feed the hungry, minister to the poor and visit those who are in distress. I thank you for your grace, your mercy and your love, but this day I thank you for seeing potential in every human being. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 23:16–26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 23:11–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.