Study from God’s Word… On his second missionary journey, Paul writes two letters to the church of Greek converts in Thessalonica, where he had visited on his way to Corinth during this journey. Reading today through the 1st Letter to the Thessalonians … Passage for Reflection: 1st Thessalonians 4: 11-12, in the context of Paul’s letter to Greek Christians on how to live a life more pleasing to God … NIV 1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. …
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
My Journal for Today: If you’re a new convert or a relatively immature believer (spiritually), reading through Paul’s letter to relatively new Christians in Thessalonica is a good read for direction in sanctification. Well, actually it’s a good study for mature Christians too; … as a check-up to see if one is living the Christian life the way it should be lived to please God.
Today’s highlight passages pose an interesting lesson for those of us Christians who, today, live in a world which honors assertive, if not aggressive, ambition. And Dr. Smith’s devotional title for today is an interesting one: Raising Our Ambition Lower. And what the Apostle Paul was teaching in 1Thes 4: 11-12, and Dr. Smith is reinforcing with his title, is that Christians in any pagan or assertively non-Christian culture need to avoid getting caught up in the magnetic draw of the world to “climb the ladder” of worldly success by being ambitious to get ahead.
But Paul is not trying to get Christians (that’s us, as well as the Thessalonians) to not be ambitious. No, he’s just trying to get the focus of our ambition on what is pleasing to God and not necessarily to mankind … or even more so to self. Whereas Satan, the world, and most certainly our own flesh would have us being ambitious to climb over others, God’s ambition would be for us to help others who need support. It’s the message Jesus continually taught while on earth … that the last will be first and the first will be last.
So, Dr. Smith is asking us to evaluate where, and to what, we direct our ambitions. Is our drive to please others or live according to God’s way of living? Is our motivated purpose to be ahead in the world or ahead in God’s kingdom by serving others? Are we compulsively driven to stand and help others rise to God’s standards; or are we ambitious to climb on top of others on the way up the human ladder of worldly success?
Well, I used to be driven to be seen by others and to get feedback from others as to my professional prowess. Now, my driven ambitions are to know my God as intimately as possible and to follow His lead as closely as possible. I guess I’m in that later-life mode as a Christian to become what Paul was writing about to the Thessalonians. So, I pray we’re all “raising our ambitions lower” to honor and glorify God.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to make less of myself so that You may be elevated in the eyes of all who see You in me. Amen