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A Worthy Ambition

by J Edward Boyd

100 Years ago

(Reprinted from the December, 1917 Word and Work)


“Wherefore we make it our aim (our ambitions) to be well pleasing unto Him.” (2 Cor. 5 :9).  This was Paul’s aim— his ambition, we may say, and such should be the intense desire of every Christian heart. How often the young are urged to “have an aim in life,” to “aim high,” to “hitch your wagon to a star,” etc., and before their eyes are set human ideals of wealth, honor, fame and a name “that is called great.”

All these Paul might have had, but he was willing to sacrifice them all, if only he might realize his great ideal— to be well-pleasing unto God. Many reasons there are why we should be absorbed by this one ambition— why we should earnestly seek to please Him in all things. First: “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ.” It will be a time of reckoning when each one must give an account of his stewardship; when he who with his five talents has gained other five, and he with his two has gained other two, shall receive the commendation of their lord and enter into his joy, and when he who hides his talent in the earth shall be cast out as an unprofitable servant; when in short, each one shall receive “the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

A time of deep distress it will be for those who please not God; but to those who are well-pleasing in His sight, a time of inconceivable joy. A gain: “We are bought with a price.” Jesus has purchased us, having paid a record-breaking price— His own blood. Hence, we are not our own; we belong to Him— body, soul, and spirit. Then He has sole right to us— to our powers and possessions. For when a man was bought by another, and thus became a bond, servant— a slave— all his personal rights and desires were subordinated to those of his master; he must consider no longer his own personal likes and dislikes, but to seek only to do those things that would please him who had bought him.

Even so, as the blood-bought possession of our Lord we should lay aside personal preferences in all things and make it our aim to please Him. Furthermore, to have the happiness and contentment that has its source only in the close companionship with God which we should enjoy as children of His, it is needful that we be well pleasing unto Him. I well remember the feelings I would have— how ill at ease I would be— how I would avoid their presence— when I knew that Father and Mother were not pleased with me; But when, on the other hand, I knew that they were well pleased with my efforts, however feeble those efforts might have been, everything was different; I was glad to be with them; I could talk more freely and make requests more boldly.

Now, by reason of the marvelous love of God, we are indeed children of His. There is great joy in this relationship; but oh! how that joy may be marred by the knowledge that our Father is not pleased with us! Yet it need not be so; for He is so tender and loving and kind toward His children that even in our weakness we can please Him. There will be conflict; for self will raise many an objection. But the follower of Jesus should firmly and repeatedly say to self, “No!”

This is what Jesus meant when He said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself (say “No” to self) and take up his cross and follow me.” In all the little details of life, in our social affairs and business dealings; under all circumstances and at all times may our ambition be to “be well pleasing unto Him.”

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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8