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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Your Ambition

Many of us - especially the younger of us - set goals for our lives. Even when we're older, we tend to have some goals that might range from retirement to traveling to golf. The point is that it seems like a mechanism of our humanness to have some sort of thinking about our future. And that thinking generally relates to how we'll live. It may include lifestyle, it may include function or form or profession.

Now God's Word has some advice for those of us who would purport to think about our future. It seems God has done some thinking about our future too. (It's not just a human concept!) And God has plenty of direction for us in terms of how He wants us to think about and plan our future. But one specific piece of Biblical wisdom has always made me wonder. It's the part that seems to break it down pretty simply and very directly.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands … so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. - 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Did you catch that? Lead a quiet life. Mind your own business. Work with your hands. Don't be dependent on anybody. Now what do you think God means by this? I'm sure the religious zealots and extremists could interpret this as God telling us that selling insurance is evil. Or we could say that God wants everyone to own their own business. But I don't think any of them would be right.

Here's the thing. As I look at the character and nature of God - and I think you have to if you want to understand what God says - I see something else here. There are many ways to make money in our world today. But there is a common theme to the most virtuous of professions. It is that they create new value, give people access to value they couldn't get otherwise. It's not a focus on moving value from one place to another - such as in robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.

So, for example, if I dig coal and sell it to people who need it, or grow food and sell it to people who need it - then I am creating value. If I ship coal or food, then I am giving people access to value. If I drive a taxi, cut hair, serve food or deliver newspapers ... I'm creating value or giving people access to value. I think this is the point God is making in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. You see, God wants us to choose professions in life that are worthwhile.

As Christ-followers, we don't have permission to be parasites on society. We are to produce value. We are to apply ourselves to making contributions. And we are to do so in such a manner as to be relevant.

Now we can probably debate until the cows come home what the definition of value is. Some may argue that giving manicures to poodles is value. But the reality is no man (or woman) is in a position to really define this. Rather you and I will need to pray about our profession.

"Lord, can I honor You with my work?"
"Father in heaven, does my work please You?"
"God, is what I'm doing serving others?"

You see, these are the kinds of questions we need to be asking in prayer. But even more importantly than talking to God about our professions --- we need to be ready to submit to Him. In other words, we need to be ready to submit to God's will when it comes to how we earn our livings on this earth.

Make it your ambition ...

1 comment:

  1. Preach it!!! Now I just have to apply it!!