Thursday, June 4, 2009

Scratching the Itch of Ambition

Here is an interesting post I ran across not long ago on Red Letter Believers. Reading it made me think of 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12: "We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices, so climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping." -- Jonathan Swift, Miscellanies, 1711

We all have an itch. It’s an itch for something different. This longing is what creates new inventions and drives us to discovery.

It also leads us to a deeper walk with God, chasing the divine mysteries. But the ugly, dark side of that desire for something else finds its satisfaction in sin.

The itch is never really satisfied, scratching away at our very being. Ambition is the fulfillment of an itch.

Is there any such thing as 'healthy ambition'? Is it possible to live out the words of Christ and still be ambitious? Or is ambition in and of itself a vain, selfish pursuit with no inherent value for believers? Is it a fatal flaw that finds its roots in our sin nature?

In it’s purest form, it’s healthy. Ambition builds companies and drives capitalism. In the kingdom of God, its what can cause us to make a difference, to change a world gone crazy. It seems the sinful elements of ambition come from the deadly pursuit of ‘our will,’ a close cousin to ‘our want.’ When our ambition takes over, it pushes aside our desire to fulfill and live out God's will for us, then we're left headed down the wide path of our own making.

But get this – healthy ambition means aligning your ways with God’s ways. He’s full of ambition. “He is willing that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God doesn’t want fulfill our wants but rather our wants should be to fulfill God's will.

Jesus could have shown selfish ambition. Certainly, all he had to do was say the word and he could have had the entire Roman command of Judea. He could have gained a country, but lost our eternities. Which ambition will you choose?
From RLB

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