Summary: While it is wrong and inappropriate for us to make it all about us and to devote our lives to self-promotion, it is altogether right and good to make it all about God and for God to be engaged in divine self-promotion.
A. One day a little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted on to the baseball diamond wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball and bat, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world,” he announced.
1. Then, he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed.
2. “Strike One!” he yelled, but undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!"
3. He tossed the ball into the air, swung at it and missed it again. “Strike Two!” he yelled.
4. The boy paused for a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully.
5. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together, then straightened his cap and said once more, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!”
6. Again, he tossed the ball up in the air and swung at it and missed. “Strike Three!” he yelled.
7. For a moment there he looked dejected, but then his face brightened and he announced, “Wow, I just realized, I’m the greatest pitcher in the world.”
B. Perhaps no one was better at self-promotion than the late, great fighter Mohammad Ali.
1. Few people feel confident enough to say the kinds of things that he said about himself.
2. Mohammad Ali said things like:
a. “I’m young; I’m handsome; I’m fast. I can’t possibly be beat.”
b. “It’s hard to be humble when you're as great as I am.”
c. “Braggin’ is when a person says something and can’t do it. I do what I say.”
d. “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I was really the greatest.”
e. Speaking of Sonny Liston he said: “He’s too ugly to be the world champ. The world champ should be pretty like me!”
f. “I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey were just jet pilots. I’m in a world of my own.”
g. “Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. I am the greatest.”
h. “I’m not the greatest, I’m the double greatest.”
3. That kind of ego and self-promotion makes most of us uncomfortable and seems inappropriate.
4. And in all fairness to Mohammad Ali, he was a showman on one of the greatest of stages, and in some respects, I’m sure he was just playing a part.
5. I didn’t know him personally, but I am sure those who knew him personally saw a different side of him.
6. President Obama gave this in tribute to Ali, “He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.”
7. Mohammad Ali said this about himself in his book, The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey, Mohammed Ali said he wanted to be remembered as “a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous, and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him, and who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what.”
C. I have introduced this sermon with these thoughts to help us see a contrast between the wrongness and the rightness of self-promotion.
1. Self-promotion that might be inappropriate or downright wrong for humans, is altogether appropriate and right for our great, glorious and holy God.
2. Last week, we looked at the glimpses of God’s glory that Moses, Stephen and Paul saw, and we witnessed the transforming effects of God’s glory in their lives.
3. Then we looked at Paul’s explanation of the way God’s glory has come into our lives to transform us into God’s image from one glory to another glory.
4. How wonderful it is that we are just jars of clay, yet God’s glory lives in us and works through us!
D. Today, I want us to continue to examine God’s glory and come to understand that God is doing all He can do to promote His glory, and that He wants us to do all we can to promote His glory as well.
1. And I hope we will be able to embrace the notion of why this divine self-promotion is altogether right and good.
E. As we witnessed last week, Moses asked to see God’s glory (Ex. 33:18).
1. When we make a survey of the Scriptures, we see that God’s glory shows up often and is truly glorious.