‘If you are humble, you’ll be very ambitious.’
These were the words that really engaged me in a sermon I heard while attending a conference 2 weeks ago.
Run that by me again, I thought. ‘Humility’ and ‘ambition’ aren’t words often seen next to each other. How can you be humbly ambitious? Isn’t that an oxymoron? As it turned out, it did all make sense.
My sermon notes for your perusal:
- Philippians 2:3-4 calls us to aspire to humility, following the example of our Lord:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
- Humility is not a personality type. ‘Quiet people’ are not necessarily humble, just as ‘louder people’ are not necessarily proud.
- Rather, humility is to be so captivated by the gospel that you willingly sacrifice your own interests for the sake of the gospel.
- Humility begins with gratitude. By being thankful for God’s kindness to us in bringing us into his kingdom. Humility is grounded in the gospel of grace.
- Ambition: We are all ambitious. What matters is what we are ambitious for.
- Selfish ambition aims to exalt ourselves, pulling others down to make ourselves seem better. This is a more natural ambition for us. But we can guard against selfish ambition, by having right ambition.
- Gospel ambition aims to exalt Jesus. Such ‘humble ambition’ will mean we don’t want to see ourselves magnified, but Christ. We will want everything else, including ourselves, to fade away so that Christ is seen properly.
- Going back to Philippians 2, which we regularly say together in church on Sunday, this is exactly what Christ himself does. Christ humbled himself for the glory of God the Father.
There is an expulsive power to a new affection. I was challenged to be so captivated by Christ and so filled with gratitude for him, that my great ambition is for Christ to be seen and made known. It is this attitude that will keep us from sliding into selfish ambition.
Let’s pray that God will enable us to be ambitious -ambitious not for our own glory, but for His.