“We are, of course, creatures who if left to ourselves, would promote ourselves without any reference to God or preference for Him. It is easy for us to jump head first and head strong into what we perceive to be important activity for Him without taking time with Him. Our silent and disguised rebellion articulates with decisions and actions a life that would seemingly repel us from the still small voice desiring to dictate his will.” – Dad
This morning dad began texting me some thoughts that were circling his head – some regarding his life and some in regard to mine. I have always felt that my father would make an amazing professor and an even better author. The words written above rang true enough to me this morning.
We don’t often view ambition or promotion as an evil or rebellious thing. We are inundated with the general population’s view of personal ambition as a good thing without little consideration to God’s ambition for humanity. There is a great deal of danger that comes with selfish ambition. It promotes the prosperity of self over the health of others. What matters is not the spiritual condition of those around us but instead how we can benefit from their spiritual condition.
In the gospel of John, Jesus is recorded saying, “I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” – John 5:41-44
Jesus makes a distinct and fascinating correlation between self-promotion and the God’s love. It would appear that as we long to promote ourselves we may find ourselves in a loveless relationship with God. A relationship that values the praise of others over the declarations of God.
Love for God results in us bearing a towel to serve, not a sword to slay. Selfish ambition can discard the towel as a useless weapon and instead pick up the arsenal of personal preference, armed to the teeth with every strategy bent on transmitting the image of self promotion and aggressive independence.
Sometimes it’s the head strong and head first that find themselves arriving at their desired destination the quickest… though that destination may not always be found in Christ.
So what questions can we ask to ensure that our ambitions line up with God? What actions, true and right actions, can we instill to ensure that we find ourselves embracing and encouraging God’s ambitions for humanity?
1. Does this decision exalt Christ?
In the desire to achieve we toss our relational scraps to Christ as if her were a beggar and would be lucky to dine off of our leftovers. Whatever action you’re about to do, whatever scheme is in your mind, does it exalt the compassionate and redemptive person of Christ or does it exalt your brand?
2. Does this action draw others to His Kingdom?
When others see you do they see the drawbridge firmly closed and the moat filled with flesh-eating alligators or do they see an open invitation to the greatest party known to man? If our actions repel people from relationship, chances are we are acting selfishly. If they draw people to a relationship with God because they see Christ in us, then chances are we are acting generously.
3. Will I regret this decision in the future?
You may not believe in regret, you may not think about regret, but at the end of our lives when we stand before our God I firmly believe that we will experience regret. Those moments we didn’t listen to his voice, those moments when we allowed the common sense of others allow the divine sense of God. When we see people lost and broken and in need of a savior but turn a blind eye to their plight, the holiness of God will surely bring to mind our shortcomings. So before you move, ask yourself, is this something I could potentially regret?
Obviously, this can go two ways. We can also regret the things we don’t do when God clearly saying GO! You may have been there as well. I wish I had listened to the Lord and acted in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Remember, each of us are called to carry the cross of Christ, but we must carry it His way.