September 30

They shall beat their swords into plowshares… Isaiah 2:4

The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down… Isaiah 2:11

On 20 January 1973 Richard Nixon was sworn in for his second term as US President. His hand rested on a Bible, open at Isaiah chapter 2. He had chosen this chapter because of his policy of ending the war in Vietnam. But his hand rested on the whole chapter, and within a few months not only was the war ended, but Nixon himself was deeply humbled by the scandal of Watergate which was already rumbling in the background as he took his oath of office. All greatness carries with it the danger that we will be blinded to other areas of our lives. We might assume, for instance, that excellence as a preacher might outweigh impatience with bothersome people we meet. Greatness is an illusion if it is a ‘head of gold’ with ‘feet of clay’ – Daniel 2:32-35. True greatness is not excelling in one area that is applauded by others. True greatness is patiently noticing and caring for insignificant people. The great German evangelist Jonathan Paul was once walking along the sidewalk with some friends who were deep in conversation. They suddenly realised he was not with them; looking around, they saw him on the other side of the road, helping a woman who was struggling with heavy bags. That famous man considered himself to be of no consequence, and acted out of a compassion that had opened his eyes to see the woman in the first place.