Summary: A study on greatness

I. Man’s idea of greatness (vs. 46)

A. The world has three chief patterns of greatness

1. Culture – the development through art and science, of a high regard in certain stations of society. (better known as fame)

a. Carol Burnett says that when she was a girl, she joked and clowned around just to get over the fear of not being liked, because she was poor and not very pretty. To be socially acceptable in our society, we need to show the trappings of success and be physically attractive. Lacking those, we feel desperately insecure and try to compensate in a variety of ways. For Carol Burnett, she became a comedienne on television. For many people, it doesn’t work out fine at all.

b. Cicero – He is a great man, who rises to a high position by his own merit...

c. José Ortega y Gasset – the great are those that are “the well known, that is, known by everyone.... Who have made themselves known by excelling the anonymous mass.

d. Barry Gibson from Lansing, Michigan drove to Beverly Hills, California with a shovel in his car. At the homes of the stars, he jumped out, dug dirt from their gardens and fled. Back home he packed it in tiny vials labeled "Celebrity Dirt" and sold the vials for $5.96 each.

e. John 12:43 "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."

f. The idea that success is measuring up to someone else’s standard is a lie.

g. It is better to be a nobody who accomplishes something than a somebody who accomplishes nothing.

2. Power – the ability to use men as pawns on a chessboard to project far and near the image of self.

a. Henry Fielding – Greatness consists in power, pride, insolence, and doing mischief to mankind... A great man and a great rogue are synonymous.

b. The lion was proud of his mastery of the animal kingdom. One day he decided to make sure all the other animals knew he was the king of the jungle. He was so confident that he bypassed the smaller animals and went straight to the bear. "Who is the king of the jungle?" the lion asked. The bear replied, "Why, you are, of course." The lion gave a mighty roar of approval. Next he asked the tiger, "Who is the king of the jungle?" The tiger quickly responded, "Everyone knows that you are, O mighty lion." Next on the list was the elephant. The lion faced the elephant and addressed his question: "Who is the king of the jungle?" The elephant immediately grabbed the lion with his trunk, whirled him around in the air five or six times, and slammed him into a tree. Then he pounded him onto the ground several times, dunked him under water in a nearby lake, and finally threw him up on the shore. The lion--beaten, bruised, and battered--struggled to his feet. He looked at the elephant through sad and bloody eyes and said, "Look, just because you don’t know the answer is no reason for you to get mean about it!"

c. Samuel Butler (1612-1680) – Authority intoxicates, And makes mere sots of magistrates; The fumes of it invade the brain, And make men giddy, proud, and vain.

d. The hunger for power was and is Satan’s sin. Isaiah 14:12-14 "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most High."

e. Isaiah 2:12 "For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:"

3. Luxury – endow one’s years with the extreme comfort which money commands.

a. Euripides – Wealth is the thing most honored among men, and the source of greatest power.

b. James Russell Lowell – Wealth is an excellent thing, for it means power, it means leisure, it means liberty.

c. Thomas B Reed – Wealth is evidence of greatness.

d. 1 Timothy 6:9 "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."

e. In 1923 at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, eight of the most powerful money-magnates in the world gathered for a meeting. These eight, if they combined their resources and their assets, controlled more money than the U.S. Treasury did. In that group were such men as Charles Schwab. He was the president of a steel company. Richard Whitney was the president of the New York Stock Exchange, and Arthur Cutton was a wheat speculator. Albert Fall was a presidential cabinet member, personally a very wealthy man. Jesse Livermore was the greatest bear on Wall Street in his generation. Leon Fraser was the president of the International Bank of Settlements. Ivan Krueger headed the largest monopoly. Quite an impressive group of people! Let’s look at the same group later in life. Charles Schwab died penniless. Richard Whitney spent the rest of his life serving a sentence in Sing Sing Prison. Arthur Cutton, that great wheat speculator, became insolvent. Albert Fall was pardoned from a federal prison so he might die at home. Leon Fraser, the president of that big international bank? He committed suicide. Jesse Livermore? He committed suicide. Ivan Krueger? He committed suicide. Seven of those eight great big money magnates had lives that were disasters before they left planet Earth.

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