Goats were among the most important assets of the early Jewish people. They are closely related to sheep, and are able to live well in desert areas while providing milk and meat to the inhabitants of those regions.  They were among the animals that God commanded Abram to cut into halves to establish a covenant with Him (Gen 15:9).  They were a part of the herds by which both Laban and Jacob counted their prosperity (Gen 30: 42-43). They were used as a sin offering (Nu 7:16) and their hair was used to make curtains for the tent of the tabernacle (Ex 26:7). A goat chosen by lot was called a scapegoat and was sent alive into the desert as a sin offering to make atonement for the people’s sins (Lev 16:9).  Somehow this term has survived until this day. We also say, “get someone’s goat” as an idiom to mean, anger, annoy or frustrate another person.

However, as the title of this article indicates, we are using an acronym instead of the actual word to talk of something quite different.  Sports fans will probably already recognize G. O. A. T. as –The Greatest Of All Time.  It is often used to debate which star in any field of endeavor surpassed all others.  Since it is so difficult to compare present and past performances, it is a challenge to sort out records and statistics.  What really determines a G.O.A.T. in any field?  Strength, intelligence, consistency, accomplishments or some other quality?  It seems to be a never ending argument with no clear winner.

How very different are the standards used to judge the greatest human or Christian of all time.  Of course, Jesus Christ is the gold standard by which all others are rated in the spiritual realm.  After Him, one is tempted to mention Peter or Paul or other apostles or martyrs such as Stephen (Act 7:55-60) who sacrificed so much. Other humble men who translated and preserved the Bible and were burned at the stake might also be a candidate.  Many great women who followed and supported Jesus at great risk also deserve mention.  But Jesus clearly said that instead of the world’s measurements, we will be judged by our love and service to others (1 Cor 13:13) (Mt 20:26).  In fact Jesus uses little children as an example of being great in the kingdom of heaven (Mt 18: 1-4).  I truly believe all this speculation will be entirely moot at the great Day of Judgement.  Servants do not need to be a G.O.A.T.

–Jim Bailey