Ambitious to be like God, Adam and Eve partook of forbidden fruit (Gen 3:1–7). Ambitious to be like God, Satan asked Jesus to worship him (Matt 4:9). Ambitious to be like God, man denies his God and seeks abomination instead (Ps 14:1–3). Even as Christians, unholy ambition remains latent inside and lurks deep within our hearts.
Ambition is not always evil. A man who applies himself well and excels in his skills will stand among kings as his reward (Prov 22:29). Ezra was skillful in his work and stood before the king while enjoying the favorable hand of the Lord (Ezra 7:6). Good ambition seeks the glory of God in every way (cf. Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 15:28).
But, like Adam, Eve, and Satan mentioned above, ambition can be evil, which is why we must hold our ambitious hearts in check.
Let Others Speak Your Praises
The book of Proverbs repeatedly reminds us not to seek our own glory in a self-serving way. We should not promote ourselves before others, lest we find our self-evaluation wrong and receive a demotion instead. The king will call us to himself if we are truly worthy (Prov 27:6–7). Our praise should come from others and not ourselves (Prov 27:2). As Jesus said, we should sit at the end of the table and wait for him to honor us as he desires (Luke 14:7–11; cf. Matt 20:20–28).
Ambition Fulfilled Might Rob You of Personal Joy
I remember a story of a celebrity killing himself because he achieved all the fame in the world and still found himself empty inside. Your greatest ambition fulfilled will still fall short of the joy of heaven.
The Proverbs use the metaphor of honey to speak directly and indirectly to this matter. An ambitious man who ingloriously seeks his glory is like one who indulges himself with honey (Prov 25:27). Perhaps a good man might incidentally receive the sweetness of man’s praise, but even then, he should not seek it. Any praise from man is more than enough, and seeking it out will sicken the soul (cf. Prov 25:16). Gorging one’s soul on praise is like eating too much honey, leaving the sinner unsatisfied and unhappier than before (Prov 27:7). In fact, if a man is never satisfied with whatever glory he receives, it may be that he is guided from below (cf. Prov 27:20). Like Adam, Eve, or Satan, he will only stop when he takes the place of God, which God will not allow. A heart with this ambition can only bring darkness to the soul. (The Antichrist also comes to mind: cf. 2 Thess 2:4, 9.) To be continued…
For more articles by Pastor Huffstutler, go to davidhuffstutler.com.