Repent of Selfish Ambition
- Return to God in deep repentance of and brokenness over sin, denying self, and coming to God with complete humility.
- Repent of any and all sin that has prevented you from being fully used by our Lord in fulfilling the Great Commission, such as selfish ambition.
Another sin that can hinder our usefulness in fulfilling the Great Commission is the sin of selfish ambition. This can plague the even brightest and most promising Christians, and we must always be on guard against the subtle seeds of selfish ambition.
Selfish ambition is very closely related to pride. Selfish ambition is the sinful desire to elevate oneself above others. In 1 Timothy 3:6, Paul warns against conceit—a part of selfish ambition. Paul writes that the pastor “must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” Satan’s pride manifested itself in the sinful ambition to be greater than God. And after Satan fell from heaven, he appealed to Eve’s selfish ambition to be “like God.”
We Christians exercise selfish ambition when we seek to be above others. Rather than seeking to “lord” our salvation over others, we should seek to serve them by sharing the gospel with them (if they are unsaved) and by discipling them (if they are among the regenerate). Consider Matthew’s account of an instance of selfish ambition among the Twelve in Matthew 20:20-28.
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Paul explicitly argues against selfish ambition in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 that we should
aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Rather than seeking fame and fortune (1 Timothy 6:6-10), we Christians should “aspire to live quietly.” We should “mind our own affairs” and not be hypocritical in our judgments of others. We are to “work with [our] own hands … so that you may walk properly before outsiders.” In living out the Great Commission, we are not to exercise sinful selfish ambition; rather, we are to “live quietly” and “mind [our] own affairs” by the empowering of God’s Spirit (Philippians 4:13).
Repent of selfish ambition and humbly rely on the empowering of God’s Spirit to “live quietly … so that you may walk properly before outsiders.”
Seth Channell, Associate Pastor at Eastside Baptist Church, preached an excellent sermon on the text from 1 Thessalonians last Sunday. You can listen to the sermon by clicking on this link.