Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ambition: A Potential Enemy of Faith Alone in Christ Alone

I am a naturally ambitious person. This can be a very helpful quality and trait in our world today. Employers like to hire ambitious people for their companies. People like to be around ambitious people. People with ambition seem to be going after something, striving for great things. So ambition in our world today is celebrated and applauded, perhaps rightfully.

There is one major drawback, that I have experienced, to being full of ambition: when as a follower of Christ your ambition serves to create unreachable standards and unattainable goals over you, leading you to feel as though you have failed when you do not meet them. 

I fall victim to this trap ALL THE TIME!

Here is what it looks like for me: I will determine that I am going to begin reading, praying, and exercising for X amount of minutes per day. I get all of these things lined up and organized. Then I will also add some goals for other things I want to do: work on foreign language, disciple people, activities I want to do as a family, things I want to do at the church, and the list goes on. I get all these "good" things lined up in my mind that will 1. help me to grow in my walk with God and 2. serve the kingdom of God.

Then something happens...

I fail. 

I will fall short on one or more of all of the things I organized and set out to do. After failing I feel as though I have let God down. I get hard on myself and wonder if I am really the Christian I thought I was. The problem with ambition is that it can serve as a master over you. If you are not careful, you will find yourself turning away from faith alone in Christ, and turning to works of the flesh and law for your right-standing with God. The things I organize for myself to do are not things that God says I MUST do in order to be made right with Him. No, I am made right with Him through my faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, who shed his blood to purchase my life. That is what makes me right with God, not my best efforts or accomplishments.

Ambition can cripple you as a believer when you do not meet your lofty goals. 

So am I wrong for wanting to read more or pray more or serve more? No.

Am I wrong for making reading more, praying more, and serving more my foundation for pleasing God or growing in my faith? Yes.

We may not wrestle over being circumcised or obeying the Jewish food laws today, but if you struggle with what I just described of myself, then you too are guilty of the sin of the Galatian Church: turning to things other than Christ for your justification and sanctification, and putting over your head an unattainable standard that will only leave you a slave to your weaknesses. 

We must look only to Christ, not our ambitious goals.

Leave a comment below to the follow questions: Do you struggle with this in your own life? If so, in what ways?

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1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more. Functionally, I try to redeem myself. I know that's not what I should do or how I should act but again, functionally and practically that's what I tend to do with my own disciplines and practices. Nothing wrong with the pursuit of Godliness but it is Christ alone who saves.

    Solo Christo