THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY OF SELFISH AMBITION
THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY OF SELFISH AMBITION
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
There is a selfish and ambitious spirit that has gripped the people of God in these times. Many have become slaves to this spirit, instead of bond-slaves of Christ.
We cover this attitude with a gloss that seems spiritual. We paint ourselves as ambitious for Christ and His Kingdom, yet we are really just serving ourselves and the goals and dreams we have.
The Christ-life has nearly been forgotten among many in the churches. That is because we don’t teach the gospel of the Scriptures. We have learned an easy, self-focused plan for our salvation that doesn’t involve messy sacrifice, public humbling, giving up worldly ambitions and goals, generous sharing of all we have, daily love for others, and a narrow, hard road with Christ upon which we will give all we ever wanted for the sake of knowing Him.
I have said it before in these teachings, and I’ll state it again forcefully, as the Holy Spirit is saying it so loudly in my ear that I can’t hear anything else.
There is a universe of difference between the selfish, ambitious, affluent Christianity taught and modeled in many of our churches today and the actual life of Jesus Christ and His disciples taught us and modeled for us in Scripture. We must address this disconnect, this chasm in our thinking and in our living, or we will perish along with the world.
That’s right, perish. Get it right, or die without Christ.
Paul and other New Testament writers lived lives that bear no resemblance to the cushioned, comfortable, busy-with-being-prominent, planned-for-success, heavily-marketed, designed-to-sell lives of our “Christian” leaders today. And with many others who seek to emulate them in the churches. We have compromised with the world, and are leading one another down the broad road to hell.
Christ demands, and has always demanded, complete, 100% discipleship. All other versions of the Christ-life are lies of men. We must give up all to follow Him, He made that clear, and gave us many examples from His own ministry among us, as well as the apostles and early disciples.
The ambitions we have will mean nothing to Christ. His only ambition for us is that we know Him, in fullness and power, in love and purity, and that we live only for Him and His Kingdom in this world. That we be set apart for Him, and useful to Him in the Body of Christ. That we know the love of God, and live that love daily. That we live quiet and godly lives in Christ, and that He be Lord of our lives every moment. That we become His righteousness, His face and hands and feet, His heart, His mind to the world.
There is no other Way. This was the Way which Paul persecuted until Christ stopped his personal ambitions on the way to
. This Way was maligned and persecuted all over the known ancient world, and has been ever since. It is this Way we are called to follow. It is Christ alone we make our ambition and our goal. Damascus
You can dress up your ambition for great ministry and wonderful achievement among Christians any way you want. Christ sees through every disguise. He is not fooled. Who do you think you’re dealing with—a man? You are laid bare, every thought, every motive, before the One you’ll meet face to face soon. He will not accept your feeble explanations and sales pitches about why you felt good about pursuing whatever dream you chose. He will either know you, or He won’t. You may ‘minister’ to thousands and have lofty status within Christian circles. You may see great success in such ways. Yet you may not have Christ with you, except in Name.
We must learn this humility and self-denial which our Lord Jesus exampled for us.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss
for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything
a loss compared to the surpassing greatness
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whose sake I have lost all things.”
You say Paul was an extreme example. (This is how we treat the Scriptures today—many explain away these things.) Then why does Paul, speaking from the Holy Spirit, say we are to live the way he lived?
“Join with others in following my example, brothers,
and take note of those who live according to
the pattern we gave you.”
Very clearly stated. No room for squirming out of it. We are to live by the example of these men and women of God, who lived by faith and gave up their worldly ambitions for the sake of Christ. (See Hebrews 11 for some reminders of whose lives we emulate.)
How sad that we have chosen to ignore much of the true Christ-life for our own version of Christianity. Yet it had started, even back then when Paul was writing from prison. Many were being led astray by false versions of “Christianity” as he suffered for Christ. They weren’t suffering, they were prosperous, and they were teaching false gospels, as many are today.
“For everyone looks out for his own interests,
not those of Christ Jesus.”
Paul was experiencing the loneliness and abandonment that comes when busy “Christians” run off to do their own things. Those men who left him there to suffer alone had important things to do, ambitions to fulfill, places to go, people to see. They were the ones Paul is referring to here, that were so busy chasing their own dreams they weren’t available for Christ’s humble and insignificant work.
Who will you emulate? The busy workers, their good lives full to the brim with things to do for the churches, for Christianity, for their ambitious goals and dreams?
Or Christ and His followers?
I pray we will all make the choice to be with Christ, on the narrow road, the road that fewer will find, but the only road upon which we may be His companions.