I heard a story recently about the University of Tennessee football coach. He bought a bolt of cloth thinking he would have a suit made out of it. He took the material to his tailor in Knoxville where the tailor measured him, examined the bolt of cloth, did some computations on a piece of paper, and said, “I’m sorry, coach, there just isn’t enough material in this bolt to make a suit for you.” The coach was disappointed, but he threw the bolt of cloth in the trunk of his car, wondering what he was going to do with it.
A couple of weeks later he was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama — the home of the Crimson Tide (arch enemies of the Volunteers). He was on his way to the coast for a vacation. Driving down the main street in Tuscaloosa, he noticed a tailor shop, which reminded him that he had that bolt of cloth in the trunk. He stopped, thinking he would give it a try. He told the tailor he had bought this bolt of cloth and wondered if he could do anything with it.
The tailor measured him, measured the bolt of cloth, did some computations. Finally he said, “Coach, I can make you a suit out of this bolt. What’s more, I can make you an extra pair of pants. And if you really want it, I can give you a vest out of this, too.”
The coach was dumbfounded. “I don’t understand,” he said. “My tailor in Knoxville told me he couldn’t even make one suit out of this bolt of cloth.” The tailor said, “Coach, here in Tuscaloosa, you are not nearly as big a man as you are in Knoxville.”
Paul warned each of us in Romans 12:3, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” It is easy for us to make the mistake of being that we are “bigger” than we really are (the Pharisee who prayed in the temple next the the tax collector in Luke 18 comes to mind).
The church in Laodicea made this mistake. They said, “I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). Jesus responded to them by saying, in essence, “You don’t realize how poor you really are.” The sad part is that God can do nothing to help people who are self-sufficient, people who are “big” in their own eyes.
Jesus reminded us (both by his teachings and his life) that to be viewed as “big” in the eyes of God, we need to be willing to be viewed as “small” in the eyes of those around us, willing to serve, ready to find our significance not in our abilities, achievements, or possessions, but in the glory we bring to God in our lives.
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)