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An Honorable Ambition

Posted: July 11, 2012 by James Harvey

Are you ambitious enough as a Christian?  While ambition is fraught with danger, there is a godly ambition that we are called to as Christians.  This godly ambition is closely tied to our love for God and His Glory: we long to see God glorified; we long to be used by God to glorify himself; therefore, we can and should have a godly ambition for our gifts and talents to be used to their highest for His highest.  As Oswald Chambers put it in the title of his class book:  My Utmost for His Highest. J. Oswald Sanders quotes Paul and Jeremiah at the head of his chapter entitled "An Honorable Ambition."

To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition. 1 Tim 3:1, New English Bible

Seekest though great things for thyself? Seek them not.  Jeremiah 45:5

In reflection upon these verses he writes:

Is there not more than a modicum of truth in the claim that ambition is the 'last infirmity of noble minds?'  Was not Shakespeare expressing a profound truth when he made Wolsey say:

Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambitions/By that sin fell the angels; /how can man then, The image of his Maker, hope to profit by't?

We cannot deny that there is an ambition which warrants these strictures.  But there are ambitions that are noble and worthy and to be cherished.  When the two passages at the head of this chapter are held in constant tension by one who desires to  be effective in the service of God and realizes the highest potential of his life, there need be little fear for the outcome of that ambition.

We need to be ambitious for the glory of God.  One peculiar sign of this godly ambition is prayer: prayers that take Jesus at his word and asks the Father to do great things for his glory in your life, your family, your church, your Session, your Diaconate, your nation, your workplace, etc.   Pray daily and specifically.  Keep a record of these ambitious, specific prayers.  You will be amazed (worship) at what begins to unfold before your eyes as you pray daily over your list.

Signs of sinful ambition are the craving for recognition, the need to be in control, the need to get it all done yourself, and a short temper when things don't go your way.  If that is your spiritual disposition, then don't be fooled by the outward facade of your ambitions.  Like worm infested fruit, our ambitions can shine on the outside and be gutted of spiritual fruit on the inside.  (BTW-I have found that when ambition finds expression in prayer first, the heart issues are dealt with by God in the process.)

Be ambitious for God.  Pray it up.  Use your gifts.  Invest your life.  All for His Glory.