Naturally, I am a very ambitious person. I think God just hard-wired me that way. But, if left unchecked, my inner-drive could lead me down a dangerous path that leads to selfishness and self-exaltation. The only way I can keep the self-determination monster at bay, is through reading the Word of God and with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Admittedly, every now and again, I’m faced with the temptation to jump in the race and compete to win the “most successful in life” trophy. Then I remind myself of how my selfish-ambitious behavior, almost cost me my salvation. That sounds a bit extreme (it very well may be), but if you only knew how intense my passion to “succeed” in this life use to be. I’m sure you heard of the Bible story where the rich young ruler asked Jesus how he could obtain eternal life, and Jesus told him to sell all his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him. Then the rich young ruler walked away grieving because he owned much possessions (Matt 19:19-22). Well sadly, I was like that rich young ruler. I didn’t own many possessions, but I owned my goals and plans for my life, and Jesus wasn’t about to take that from me. I was willing to give up some things, but He was not about to rob me of the possibility of winning the “most successful” trophy.
It took a couple of years before I finally surrendered “MY” dreams, goals, plans for “MY” life to God. When I think about how miserable and frustrated I was during those years of trying to be successful, all I can do is shake my head. In fact, at times I want to cry because I think about the grace the Lord granted me by opening my eyes to see how much I was “kicking against the pricks” (Acts 26:14 KJV). Once I decided to finally place my life’s goals and dreams in the hands of Jesus, that’s when I really started to live. There is real freedom when you let go and trust God. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, all I knew was that God would be responsible to take care of me.
Reflecting back on my list of goals, I realize how worldly and ungodly they really were. None of my goals were centered around glorifying God. Rather, I sought to be successful for selfish-gain, out of pride, and because I was still very carnal. In all honesty, although I was going to church faithfully, served in ministry, had somewhat of a prayer life, I wasn’t trying to please God. My heart longed for the things of this world. I was living for self, not for the Savior.
Chasing money and the things of this world is not only exhausting, but it hinders us in our spiritual growth, and could even cause us to be led away from God (1 Tim 6:10). More importantly, if we find ourselves consumed with the idea of being “successful” and in love with the things of the world, the Bible tells us that the love of God is not in us (1 Jn 2:15). The truth is we can’t love and serve money and God (Matt 6:24), we can’t be friends with the world and God (Ja 4:4), and we can’t live for self and the Savior at the same time (Matt 16:24).
The definition of success should be totally different for a Christian, than that of an unbeliever. As a new creature in Christ, we ought to have a new passion, new desires, new goals for life, new dreams…all things new (2 Cor 5:17). Our purpose for living changes. We no longer reduce our existence to merely making money, buying a nice house or having a great career. God’s plan for us is much greater. He has an eternal purpose. Therefore, as believers we live with eternity on our minds. We make it our ambition to seek the Kingdom first, spread His Word, glorify Him and to store up for ourselves heavenly treasures (Matt 6:20).
Can you say that you’re living FOR Jesus? Are you certain that when you stand before God to give an account for your life, you can say that you sought wholeheartedly to accomplish the work that He had for you to do on earth, that you died to self, picked up your cross and followed Him (Matt 16:24)? If not, make the decision to no longer bow down to the “success” god.
There is nothing inherently evil about being successful. The Lord graciously blesses us with physical/material things. However, we must heed the warnings of Jesus Christ when He said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” ( Matt 19:23), and “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt 16:26).
Take a leap of faith and surrender all to Jesus. Live this life determined to hear our Savior say “Well done, enter in”.
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