Last week, we saw that ambition can be good insomuch as our ambition is to glorify God, whatever that means for us. But, unfortunately, ambition for ourselves alone is evil, leading to many sins. We should let others speak our praises if necessary, and if not, we might find ourselves without joy because we are looking for joy in ourselves instead of Christ alone.
This week, we finish this 2-part series.
Self-Praise Means Nothing Before God
Paul dealt with ambitious false teachers from time to time (e.g., all of 2 Corinthians). Whereas they boasted in themselves, he told them to boast in the Lord instead (2 Cor 10:17; cf. Jer 9:23–24). Self-approval yields no commendation from God (2 Cor 10:18). The only thing that makes us worth anything in his eyes is Christ’s righteousness by faith. Like Apelles, a name likely unremembered by most (and even me until I just reread his name), we are “approved in Christ” (Rom 16:10). We can be a “nobody” in the eyes of man but righteous in the eyes of God, which is all the approval we need.
Man’s Glory Means Nothing in the Church
A classic passage to address the wrongful promotion of men within the church is 1 Corinthians 1–4. Some promoted Apollos, and others, Peter, Paul, or Jesus. (Jesus seems like a good option, but, given their context, it seemed pious as it meant the rejection of Apollos, Peter, and Paul.) Paul wanted the Corinthians to glorify God through all of these servants as they were used to grow the church (1 Cor 3:6–9). If we find ourselves ambitious, even within the church, we must remember that God above is the one to commend and no one from man below, including our own selves (1 Cor 4:1–5).
A Final Word
Ambition ruined Satan forever and Adam and Eve for a time. Thankfully, when Jesus was tempted with the world, he chose the Father’s cross over Satan’s crown. And then, in reward for his faithful obedience, God raised him up, exalted him, and placed him on his throne.
May God help us to be like Christ and keep our ambitious hearts in check. May we be satisfied with the Father’s approval of us in Christ. Knowing that God will graciously glorify us in time, may our greatest ambition be the glory of God alone.
For more articles by Pastor Huffstutler, go to davidhuffstutler.com.