Great Simplicity (Mutt and Jeff)

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 04 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Strength And Beauty)


Many years ago while reading the comic strip of "Mutt and Jeff," I learned a great lesson. I would like to share it with you on this page. Jeff was lying under the shade of a tree sleeping. Mutt came up and said, "Jeff, why don't you get up?"

Jeff said, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can get a job."
Jeff said, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can make some money."
Jeff said, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can save it."
Jeff asked, "Why?"
Mutt replied, "So you can get a lot of money."
Jeff asked, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can retire some day."
Jeff asked, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can just lay around and do nothing."
Jeff replied, "Why Mutt, that is what I am doing now, why go to all the trouble"

There is just a fine line between the lazy Jeff and the successfully retired man. What is the difference? The difference is simply this: The man who retired has earned the right to lie in the shadow of the tree, whereas the man who has not worked has not earned such a right. Have you ever noticed how similar the ignorant man is to the genius? They are very close to each other and yet they are very far apart. The genius has made the cycle of life; he has worked and learned about life. In so doing he has learned to be simple so he can help a simple man. They live right next door to each other, but it is a long trip from one house to the other, for there is a wall between them. One cannot take the short-cut of the cycle and go right next door. He must go around the entire circle and take the long trip to become the genius. Someone wrote, "So nigh is grandeur to our dust, so near is God to man, when duty whispers, Lo, thou must,' the youth replies, 'I can.'"

Greatness is earned simplicity. A man who knows perfect English has a right to break its rules. He has earned that right. A man who knows all the rules of public speaking has a right to break them; he has earned that right. This is why the greatest men often are not recognized as great. The greatest theologians often remain unrecognized as great theologians, for they have made the cycle of greatness which brings them around next door to simplicity. The farthest point from simplicity is also the farthest point from greatness. It is that spot at the top of the circle when one is halfway between being simple and great. These are the people that are judged great by a world that is unqualified to judge, because they are farther from the simple. They have not made the entire cycle which puts them finally next door to the simple. It is at this point when one thinks he is the greatest when he is farthest from simplicity and also farthest from greatness. When a person reaches true greatness he realizes he lives next door to simplicity and is willing to make his greatness readable to the simple.

Yes, the road between simplicity and greatness is a long one that goes around a circle and takes us right back to greatness. The great man has a right to be simple. The simple man has no claim on greatness.

Two men lie in the shade of a tree; they enjoy the same shade, the same refreshing breezes, and the same sunshine. They may even be talking about the same subject. One has earned his right; the other is a bum. The naked eye cannot tell them apart, but one is great and one is simple.

Let us pay the price for simplicity. Let us make the entire cycle so that we may help the simple man, and may we become so great that the simple man cannot recognize our greatness. Let us not stop halfway around the circle, for it is then that we are farthest from simplicity and greatness.

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