I am not a spammer! I have a vague idea of what a spammer is, apparently those guys that send out millions of useless e-mails for hair growth, hair removal, and bright shiny teeth among other things. Well, I am not one of them, but apparently somebody with the power to shut off my account seemed to think so yet again. If I were of a more conspiratorial nature in my thinking, I would surmise that someone didn't really like what I have to say, or like me as a person. Either way, we were offline for over a week until the powers that be got it squared away, again.
For those that completely forgot what the first part of this multi-part mini series was all about, I would encourage you to go back and read the first installment. I think by the end it will be a blessing to most of you. Circumstances beyond my control sort of sums up the 'why' of why I haven't posted in almost two weeks. I hope everyone understands.
Going back to the two things Paul mentioned specifically, one is able to discern the point that he was trying to drive home. The two things Paul mentioned with specificity, and warned against were selfish ambition, and conceit.
In order to understand what Paul was warning against, one must first understand what the words mean. Once we understand what the words mean, we quickly realize that Paul is warning against what is essentially the epidemic of our time, namely a belief structure, a lifestyle and a doctrine all firmly rooted in the self.
Selfish: Too much concerned with one’s own welfare or interests, and having little or no concern for others; self-centered.
Ambition: A strong desire to gain a particular objective.
Conceit: A favorable and especially unduly high opinion of one’s own abilities or worth. Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance; vain; proud; egotistical; self-important.
(I did not make up these definitions, they are not figments of my imagination, they were made ) possible by www.dictionary.com) (No I'm not trying to plug them, nor am I receiving any monetary compensation for mentioning their name. Just in case someone was wondering, there it be!)
Let me begin by saying that there is nothing wrong with having ambition. If your ambition is to know more of God, to get deeper into the Word, to help the poor, to preach the gospel, all these are noble endeavors, and desires. The minute that ambition is coupled with selfishness or conceit however, it is transformed into a monster, willing to step on anyone’s dying corpse, betray and otherwise cast aside the closest of friends, because there is only one objective for the selfish and the conceited, and that is the end result, and if the end result is attained, well the means by which they were attained is no longer of any consequence is it?
Is it any wonder that the spiritual condition of this nation is as it is given that most pulpits are teaching the opposite of what the Word of God teaches? Although Christ and all the Apostles continually focus upon selflessness, lowliness, meekness, and humility, a great majority of today’s self anointed spiritual leaders are preaching an unapologetic form of self-centered humanism that goes far beyond what those of the world dared to teach when the self help movement was at its peak.
Selfish ambition, and conceit lead men to desiring praise for their endeavors, it leads them to desiring recognition and prominence, and such men have no qualms about being their own best spokesperson, constantly bringing themselves to the forefront, inflating their accomplishments, packaging themselves in such a way as to seem better than their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, in whatever their chosen field of ministry might be. When someone insists that they are a better preacher than their brother, that they pray with more fervor than their sister, that they sing better than others standing beside them on the platform, or that they contribute more to the work of God than fellow bond servants in Christ, they do this out of conceit, and a desperate desire to be acknowledged. Such men do nothing for the cause of Christ, they are not in ministry to further the kingdom of God or the gospel of Christ, they are in ministry simply to promote themselves, to amass followers and to achieve prominence. To them the sheep of God’s house are there simply for the fleecing, and there is no proven method that has worked better over time to keep the sheep coming back for more, than to tell them what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear.
The beautiful thing about the Word of God is that when it gives a specific instruction, it also provides the means by which we can accomplish that which has been required of us. If the verse would simply have been ‘let nothing be done through selfish ambition of conceit’ one might have readily asked, but how? How can we make certain that nothing we do is done through selfish ambition or conceit? In His goodness God reveals to us the means by which we can ensure that nothing we do is done through these two soul crippling and sinful states.
We keep ourselves free of the snare of selfish ambition and conceit, by perpetually walking in lowliness and humility, regarding, respecting and prizing our brothers and sisters, better than we do ourselves.
But how you Romanian simpleton how do I regard and respect my brothers and sisters, how do I see them better than myself when they are not? I am better educated, have a better paying job, I stand up straighter, chew with my mouth closed, have better genes, am more eloquent, don’t speak with a lisp, and have better hair. How can I esteem others better than myself when I am clearly their superior?
Such thoughts arise in the hearts and minds of men when they contemplate this verse and attempt to go beyond the theory, beyond the mere reading of it, to actually applying it to their lives. Herein dear friends, we discover the wondrous mystery that is true unity within the body of Christ, the mystery of self-denial, and the mystery of being ever transformed into the image of Jesus. All the misunderstandings, all the divisions, all the differences, all the things that keep the children of God apart would melt away if we would only fulfill this verse, if we would only implement it every day of our lives.
So back to the original question: how do we esteem others better than ourselves, when our flesh, our hearts, our minds, even basic reason are screaming at us that we are their superiors? Find that one thing! Every person in the world is superior to every other person in the world at one thing. Emerson once said, that every man he meets is superior to him in some way. My dear friend it is an undeniable truth. Every person you meet is superior to you in some way, and esteeming them better than you do yourself only goes to show the world that you are a work of God’s grace, and a new creature in Christ. When we actively acknowledge and esteem those around us better than ourselves, the nature of Christ is visible from afar.
The conceited man will not acknowledge another’s superiority even though he is obviously inferior to the person. In his mind, he is so diluted and deceived that he is unwilling to consider the notion that some one is greater than them.
The truth is that talent, culture, book smarts, social standing, or estimated worth are irrelevant as far as the Gospel is concerned. The work of God’s grace is not contingent on how much money you have, how many years of high school or college you have under your belt, or what sort of people you know. The grace of God enters every heart that is open, and does a work in every person that submits and surrenders himself or herself to the Father’s will. Contrary to popular belief, God does not love the rich more, and the poor less, He does not have greater affinity for the gifted, whether it be in sports, the arts or some other chosen field, and is indifferent toward the average. The only thing God acknowledges, prizes, and rewards is obedience. So the next time the talking head on television chastises for not having enough faith to believe for the new boat, the new house, the better job, or the nicer car, turn it off, kneel before the heavenly Father, and thank Him for all the wonderful gifts He has bestowed upon you.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.