They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11:4)
In this passage, the people of the earth at the time only had one language. God’s commission to man was to be fruitful and multiply, and to fill the earth. (Gen 1:28) Instead, the decide they want to make themselves great, making a name for themselves. So the Lord comes down and sees them building this great tower, and saw that they were in unity. Unity is a great thing, and there’s blessing in it…however, in this type of unity, they were working against the purposes of God, and working only to make themselves great, not to glorify the Lord. So the Lord scatters them by changing their languages in a moment of time! Pretty incredible. He ruins their plans that were against His.
In contrast, the very next chapter you see God calling Abram. Look at this verse in Genesis 12:1-2…
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing…”
It’s very interesting that in chapter 11, the people tried to make their own names great…and it fell apart, it failed. God was not blessing their own self, prideful efforts. Then in chapter 12, you see God telling Abram to go, and in obedience to him going, the Lord Himself will make him a great nation, and will make His name great. And that is exactly what happened right? Because Abraham was faithful to the Lord, God made his name great, and all the nations of the earth was indeed blessed through him.
So the moral of the story is, seek to build God’s kingdom, not your own. Our own self efforts to make a name for ourselves will fail every time. Only the Lord can raise us up, and that to do His will, not our own. Greatness comes from serving the Lord…having a servant’s heart, not a selfish heart.
In John 13, Jesus showed by example what greatness truly is – He washed His own disciples feet, not the other way around. He was our example of true Kingdom living. He said in Matthew 20:25-28 that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over their servants, but it won’t be this way in His kingdom, He said those who desire to be great must become the servant of all – for Jesus Himself came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.