neutralizing the poison of selfish ambition…

 Christians should:

1. hold their tongues, refusing to speak uncharitably about a Christian brother

2. cultivate the humility that comes from understanding that they, like Paul, are the greatest of sinners and can only live in God’s sight by his grace

3. listen “long and patiently” so that they will understand their fellow Christian’s need

4. refuse to consider their time and calling so valuable that they cannot be interrupted to help with unexpected needs, no matter how small or menial

5. bear the burden of their brothers and sisters in the Lord, both by preserving their freedom and by forgiving their sinful abuse of that freedom

6. declare God’s word to their fellow believers when they need to hear it

7. understand that Christian authority is characterized by service and does not call attention to the person who performs the service

                                                         ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, pg 90-109


When we pursue self-centered and temporal goals we are assaulted with the reality that the “weight” of the Gospel, which can be linked closely with the felt and embraced glory of God, has not become heavier than the other things that we value.  And though Bonhoeffer’s list is powerfully practical and incredibly insightful, there must be a foundational reality of who God is and how small we are in comparison. Isaiah’s encounter with God’s presence left him wrecked and broken for life. But this brokenness wasn’t like the brokenness of life, it was a submission and a willing brokenness to the Hands that had created him and could restructure his make-up in such a way as to make “glory-reflecting” (the only truly important thing to a “glory-broken” man) possible.

The nearer we can get to God, the less we will find our ambitions to be important, or even valid.  Practically this will begin to look like subtle dissatisfaction with things that used to be paramount in our lives. It is this gradual, outward change that is evidence of the seismic shift that has taken place in our hearts. A shuddering and quaking of the very foundations of our soul.

And this is how we long to be moved. Not with surface level tickles. But with spirit shaking soul-quakes.

This is why Paul could tell the Philippians “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 2:21) – not because he had found a more entertaining pastime, but because the core of his being had been completely overcome by the light of Jesus Christ.

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