No one ever becomes great simply through his own ability or personality. Greatness is only achieved through the life of another. Think about that for a minute. What makes a patriot so revered? It is because his life is found in the larger life of his country. What makes the humanitarian so distinguished? It is because he’s a member of the larger body of humanity. Why is the artist so loved? It is because his spirit is a part of the larger spirit of creation.
You see, the truth of the matter is that none of us even begin to live except through the act of dying. In our verse for today we find that the branch only bears fruit because it becomes lost in the tree. If a branch could speak it wouldn’t say, “I am a branch.” It would say, “I am a tree.”
If I were traveling in Europe and in a heated conversation with a man from Italy made a statement that the United States could whip Italy with one hand tied behind our back, that man would be upset-and rightfully so. Why? Because he has identified his own life with the life of Italy. Italy’s triumph is his triumph, her tragedy is his tragedy. The branch sees itself as the tree.
That’s the way it is with a true Christian. Christ becomes a very personal matter. The Christian rejoices when Christ is exalted and is grieved when He is dishonored. I saw a young man crying over the way Christ is treated in America. Now, the world would think that very odd. The world would ask, “Why is he crying? Nobody is hurting him.” That’s not what that young man would have said – the branch felt that it was the tree.
Do you see now the secret to greatness? Greatness isn’t found in your individuality, independence or even self denial. True greatness is discovered in genuine surrender to another – to Christ.
I hear some today talking about the subject of “forgetting self.” My question is simply, “How do you plan on doing that?” Will it be by death or will it be by life? Sure, some medication could cause you to forget yourself, but that is just an unconsciousness that comes from dying. There is, however, an uncounsciousness that comes from living in the life of another – but that is made possible only by love.
The branch could forget itself by simply withering and dying. It could do that, but wouldn’t it be far better for the branch to simply lose itself by living in the vine? That’s the challenge for us today – to get into the vine! We must find our life in the life of another – Jesus. We must feel ourself as a member of His body. His interests must be seen as our interests. His hearbeat must be our heartbeat. His grief must be our grief. His joy must be our joy. His prayer must be our prayer.
Let’s join Him in praying for the hallowed name, the coming Kingdom, the directed will, the provision of daily nourishment, the presence of mercy and for the end of sin!
You will find the peace that comes from being Christ’s beloved when your forgetting of self is found in the remembering of Him.