If you look closely at yourself, with every flaw you may think of yourself. If you really look in the mirror made from every material God has created, and acknowledge that He also made you to appreciate His creation! You! If you really look, come on, look harder, will you? There would never be any fault you find of yourself. Just think of this, if God wanted everyone of us to be perfectly unflawed, then how could He be the one real Father to guide us, sent His son to love us, and Holy Spirit, who on the Day of Pentecost, brought to us the mystic textile of the Church of God (Acts 2:39), to teach us (John 14:16). The Trinity…who keep us.
I think of Jesus in Luke 14, who had the most important “Table Talk”. Luke 14 contains at least six parables. Today, my focus is on the Parable of the Ambitious. I started this expression on the notion that even when we find fault with ourselves (Deuteronomy 31:6), when our words are not gracious (Proverbs 16:24), and when we become too ambitious (Matthew 6:33), we are still always welcomed on the wings of Jesus. As I think on my own life, I’m always fascinated by people who hold characteristics of the latter. Ambition can sometimes cause certain groups to boldly take from others to achieve what they seek. Yet, it is my belief that it is the sneaky ambitious soul that can be the wiliest. I can write on this all day, especially in comparison to the sixth commandment, which speaks on preventing the crushing of another human’s spirit. In essence though, the first parable in Luke 14, I believe sways toward this idea.
The degeneracy of the Pharisee’s invitation to Jesus may cause some to deeply wonder why this invitation to our Savior. Was this a genuine invitation or was it made so He could be judged and carefully watched by the cynics? Most know the invitation was based on the constructs of criticism and rebuke. Yet, Jesus was up for it. He accepted and He arrived. Ulterior motives were that the dropsical man present could be healed, and the brilliancy of Jesus in speech and actions would be absorbed by those at the table. He was on display!
As I write on this, I smile, because these pharisaic behaviors seem much more prevalent today, exhibited by our own Christian brothers and sisters. I do not beg to differ here in any way, shape or form. I know this, because I have experienced it as the guest and the host. Even though I was brought up in a pastoral home (grandparents), occasionally, I was a Pharisee in this sense. Nonetheless, despite this fault and flaw in me, He, Jesus, still loved and loves me.
Our wise Lord was up for the task of working and dealing with the Pharisaic mind. A minor mission compared to what was coming at Calvary, in the next week or so. You see, some believe this time Luke wrote about, was the last sabbath of Jesus’ life on earth. Although His audience tried so hard to read His mind, they just couldn’t, but He knew their motives, and could read their ambitious thoughts… their sneaky approaches, to take, falsely reproduce, and to lash out at Christ. His omniscient presence took hold of the atmosphere and He did not back down to bow out gracefully.
Bad manners! We all have them! Ambitions in church, to sit up close to a speaker, to take the best seats in the halls, designed to keep us moving toward Christ. We enter our houses of worship with a different mindset sometimes. We twist and turn our minds and feelings, because we believe someone has trampled on our special space or seat. We do this without even thinking that the person could be a new visitor of our church home or Meeting House. We feel we have a right to that seat, because we tithe, and we’ve been a member for many years. Oh, our ambitions! Our struggle with superiority, eminence, and hidden rivalry! All this…all this! And, we do not remember what communal intercourse should look like. The Pharisees’ behaviors are within us in many instances. For, they too, sought the best seats in the synagogue (Luke 11:43).
Jesus teaches on the importance of self-emptying. To recognize our ambition, to allow time for self-reflection, to apologize, to pray, to wait on the Lord, to be guided by Him, and to allow Him to help us to rid the garbage within. No matter how difficult the course may seem. The end results are so worth the process.
This precept of the ambitious, I find to be a wonderful guide in patience, illustration, and awareness. It shows what achievement can do to the soul and likewise expounded on the importance of downgrading ambition. Jesus was the most important guest at the gathering, but did not take the best seat.
Friends, our feet must be on level ground at all times. As our minds and hearts must be of the Lord Jesus. With integrity, ambition fails. God wants to fulfill our every need. We are His great congregation! May we always remain thankful for His grace and His mercies (Proverbs 26:11-12). Let’s allow Him to empty us! The flaws, He’ll work with. The faults, He’ll remove! Our love and companionship, He seeks!
Remember faith is not workable. We need not lift one finger! Faith, faith, faith and more faith…really, just is!
Hold on to it!
With all my love,
Link to my Reflections on Church Leadership