The Medical Missionary, vol. 12

The Medical Missionary, Vol. 12


January 1903

“The True Way to True Greatness” The Medical Missionary, 12, 1, pp. 4-6.



IT is not wrong to desire to be great, any more than it is wrong to desire to be free. It is not wrong to desire power, any more than it is wrong to desire to be free. And to desire to be free is absolutely and eternally right. MEDM January 1903, page 4.1

Indeed, so entirely right are all these desires, that it is but the simple truth to say that they are true gospel desires. The impulse of each is from God; and the desire itself is right. The thing that is wrong in connection with them is that men take the wrong way and employ wrong means to attain to the thing rightly desired. MEDM January 1903, page 4.2

The call of Christ is the call to freedom, to liberty. Of him it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to ... proclaim liberty to the captives.” Therefore it is written: “Ye have been called unto liberty.” And his word to all is: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” “I am the ... truth.” “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” And to all who have received him, the exhortation is: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” MEDM January 1903, page 4.3

It is therefore most certain that it is absolutely and eternally right to desire to be free. And God in Christ by the gospel has established the true and only way to satisfy that desire. But instead of taking this way, and so attaining to perfect freedom forever, men take their own way; and by confederacy and combination, even to battle and war, and by “eternal vigilance,” attain to only a precarious temporal freedom during the fleeting space of this world. MEDM January 1903, page 4.4

A leading American writer has defined life as “a seeking for power.” There is much truth in that definition, as witnesses the whole history of the world. As the world seeks for it, it is a vain search, as also witnesses the whole history of mankind. Yet the desire for power, even for unlimited power, is wholly a right desire—a true gospel desire. And God in Christ by the gospel has established the true and only way to satisfy this desire. So it is written: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God... to every one that believeth.” “I cease not to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be ... strengthened with all might according to this glorious power.” “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know ... what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come.” MEDM January 1903, page 4.5

This is the way, and the only true way, to power. This is the way to power that is really power—power that perfectly satisfies, always in all things, and in all circumstances; power that is unlimited and all mighty; for it is the very power of God unto “all the fulness of God.” But instead of taking this way to the power that perfectly satisfies in all things and forever, men will take the way of crushing out their fellowmen, wiping out nations, and wading through seas of blood, to attain to a power that is wholly precarious and wholly unsatisfactory, and which, at the very best, is only “for a moment.” The desire for power is a wholly right desire; men taking the wrong way to attain to that right thing, miss it altogether. The way of “Christ the power of God” is the only Way to power. MEDM January 1903, page 5.1

It is entirely so, also, as to greatness. It is wholly right to desire to be great. To desire to be great is a true gospel desire. In the word of the gospel it is presented as an incentive that ye “shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Read it: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” MEDM January 1903, page 5.2

It is altogether right to keep the commandments of God and to teach men so. There is no more righteous thing than that. Indeed, there is no greater thing than that. In the nature of things, a person must be great, to do great things. A man, therefore, must be great to be able to do the great thing of keeping the commandments of God and of teaching men so. And being great, and doing that great thing, that he should be called great, is but the simple thing of calling him what he already is. And since it is supremely and eternally right to desire to keep the commandments of God, and to teach men so; and since, in order to do that, we must be great, it follows that it is eternally right to desire to be great. Accordingly, concerning John the Baptist, the forerunner of the model Man, it was spoken by the angel of the Lord: “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord.” And of Christ, the model man himself, it was also spoken by the angel of the Lord: “He shall be great.” And it is everlastingly right for every man to desire to be like Him, the model man. Therefore it is everlastingly right for every man to desire to be great. MEDM January 1903, page 5.3

This truth is strikingly emphasized and strongly illustrated in the life of the twelve disciples and Christ’s dealing with them. Those disciples were almost constantly querying in their own minds “Who shall be the greatest,” or “Who shall be called greatest” in the kingdom which they were expecting Christ to establish. Time and time again, these queryings broke out into discussion and even contention among them. More than once their anxiety in this matter led them even to ask Jesus openly the question. Once two of them had it so far settled in their own minds that they two were the greatest, that they put themselves forward and actually asked openly that they two should be given the two places of chief honor, one on His right hand and the other on His left, in that kingdom that they had in mind. And yet, though invariably speaking to them on the subject, never by as much as a hint did Jesus reprove their desire to be great or even the greatest; never once did he even suggest to them that greatness was an altogether unbecoming subject for them as his disciples to even think of aspiring to. NO. Yet while this was so, he never missed an opportunity, he seized every occasion, to show to them that they had in view the utterly wrong way to greatness, and to point out to them the true way to greatness. MEDM January 1903, page 5.4

What, then, is this way? “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying: Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them and said: Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Conversion, then,—a changed life and humility,—is essential to greatness. This is indeed the entrance to the way of true greatness. MEDM January 1903, page 6.1

The rest of the way is made plain as follows: “Jesus called them unto him and said: Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servants; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many;” and “I am among you as he that serveth.” MEDM January 1903, page 6.2

The world’s way, the human and false way, to greatness, is for a man by an assertion of power, dominion, or authority, to exalt himself to a position of lordship and have as many as possible to serve him and be subject to his beck and nod. But in the true way of greatness it is not so; here it is humility to the emptying of self and becoming himself the servant of all, being “at the call of every one.” MEDM January 1903, page 6.3

Service, then, service of our fellowman, freely chosen by a free man, this is the true way to greatness. He who, being free from all, freely chooses to be servant to all, and at the call of every one, is in the way of true greatness. And he who thus serves most people, who is at the call of the most people, is the greatest; even as the Son of man, the model man, came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; not to be served, but to serve; not to have all people at his call, but to put himself at the call of all people, and to devote his life and pour it out for mankind. MEDM January 1903, page 6.4

Free service to mankind, ministering to their needs, answering their calls, ready ever to do them good in whatever possible way, seeking to perform and striving to be able to perform, all this in the most efficient way, to do the most possible good in service to the greatest possible number of people—this is the true way of greatness. So it is perfectly proper to desire to be great, and even to be the greatest in this the right and true way. It is totally unlike the world’s way; and also, totally unlike the world’s way, it is impossible for any one ever to become proud of the greatness so attained. MEDM January 1903, page 6.5

And this is the greatness that accomplishes that truly great thing of the keeping of the commandments of God and teaching men so. For it is written: “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion of the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one work, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Since, therefore, loving service to others by those who are free, is the fulfilling of all the law of liberty, the law of God; and since those who do this great thing are called great simply because in the nature of things that is what they must be and what they are, it follows that loving service to others by those who are free in Christ is true greatness. MEDM January 1903, page 6.6

Oh, then, let us all aspire to greatness in this the only right way. In the world’s way only a very few can ever attain to greatness. In this the true way every soul can attain to it; every soul can be like the model man, who, anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with him. And he shall be great. MEDM January 1903, page 6.7