Ambition for worldly prizes is attractive but vain. Jesus said, “do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). God commends holy ambitions. God’s people are to look for every opportunity to “abound in the work of the Lord.” Paul described Christian living fueled by love as “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Ambition that Seeks for God
Christians are to “seek first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). The word “seek” is from the Greek word ζητεῖτε. It is an imperative–a command for us to follow. The word is used to describe a merchant “seeking” for pearls (Matthew 13:45); a shepherd “seeking” for the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12); the way in which we are to seek God (Acts 17:27); and the desire God has for those who would be his servants (John 4:24).
Ambitious from beginning to End
This spiritual zeal is found especially in our spiritual beginning. Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24).Maybe, you remember the zeal which filled your heart as you were drying off from your baptism. The plans we had to do great things and the dedication to holiness we had then should only grow throughout our Christian lives. Perhaps, it is time to remember how great it is to be a Christian and live as greatly as we can for Christ? The Thessalonians are great examples of Christians who gave their all. They “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and wait for his Son from Heaven.” Paul boasted of how their “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope” which carried them from their conversion to their reward.
Paul’s Example of Holy Ambition
Paul, who was incredibly zealous for Christ and his cause, wrote “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Paul demonstrated that zeal in his own life. We might think that we would be successful to be half as dedicated to the Lord as Paul was. However, Paul was never satisfied with his spiritual development. He said, “Brethren, I do not count my self to have apprehended; but one thin I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
We Can be Ambitious for God
With that spiritual zeal exemplified by Paul, we will be able to fulfill the command in 2 Timothy 2:15, “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Live for Jesus O my brother, his disciple ever be. Render not to any other what alone the Lord’s should be. Live for Jesus. Live for Jesus. Give him all thou hast to give.”
D. L. DeBord, M.Div.