I am too young to remember the comedy album when Cassius first made that claim, and I can vaguely recall standing beside my dad as he watched the first Liston fight on a small, fuzzy RCA screen while mom wrapped tinfoil around the antennas. But I remember well the Muhammad Ali of my youth as he boldly proclaimed his famous mantra over-and-over again on national TV after yet another whoopin of a talented opponent. Egged on by the distinctive voice of the notable Howard Cosell, Ali would shake his gloved fist into the camera defiantly and proclaim his greatness with a level of confidence that I had never seen before.
It’s not the initial confidence that bothers me, it is the arrogance that followed as the wins mounted. Sure, he did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. A big fat bumble bee no doubt. But even as a child I can recall being put off by his attitude. My grandad would scoff at the TV every time Ali said it. It just went right through him to see a man act like that. My grandad was the polar opposite of the man on TV that everyone revered and loved.
I am so thankful to have grown up under the tutelage of men like Ben Glover, my grandad, and Robert Glover, my father. They were men of few words but strong action. They never told anyone how great they were, they didn’t have too. They were two of the humblest men I have every known, and two of the greatest men I will ever meet on this earth. They left an indelible mark on me that Ali’s left hook couldn’t knock off if he had tried a million times.
You see; greatest is not claimed with braggadocios audacity, greatness is demonstrated by incontrovertible humility. It takes infinitely greater power and strength to surrender one’s will than it does to give in to one’s passions and desires. As the old adage goes, pride goes before a fall, and as Jesus said, it is the meek who will inherit the earth. Pride and arrogance have no place in God’s kingdom. Courage and boldness, yes. Pride and arrogance, no.
Jesus speaks to this topic in our study this week from Luke 18:9-14. After traveling around Israel and Samaria for nearly three years, under the critical eye of the Pharisees, Jesus pauses to address the important topics of pride and humility. I hope you can join us this week as we explore another great parable from the Master.
For those unable to join us in person, please feel free to download the Bible study materials for your personal use by following one of these links: PowerPoint Slides, PDF File. Also, you can download files for previous weekly studies by visiting the following page on my blog: Doubtless Living: The Gospel of Luke.