The Bare Soul - January 20, 2008
Ambitious Living

James 3:16 - For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

When I started barefoot running, my reasons were two-fold. One, I definitely wanted to run pain free. My knees had been giving me fits for months and barefoot running seemed to force proper technique which alleviated the lateral shock to my legs and knees. Two, I wanted to be noticed and applauded for doing something that very few were trying and most wouldn't do. To most sensible folks, the second reason smacks of arrogance and pride. I attempted to masquerade my selfish ambition of wanting accolades for what I was doing with the reasoning "... it was for my health". The truth? I was steeped in selfish ambition which the Lord out of His abundant mercy allowed. God knew, that like anything else of this world, that I would eventually grow tired of it, experiencing its emptiness. In His infinite wisdom, He had other things in mind for my barefoot running. He inevitably wooed me into a place of submission and humility to eventually turn the attention that I was receiving over to Him, in order that He might use it for His glory.

Today, I pray that my heart is more and more His. To assume that I am free from self-promotion would be ludicrous and self-deceiving. As I walk in the ways of the Lord and allow Him to shape His ministry around me, I see the importance -- no, the imperativeness of letting Him be Lord and allowing Him to strip me of all selfish ambition. This is actually going beyond mere submission to Jesus and all He is -- for even an enemy can bow down to his victor and give feigned obedience. Beyond submission, the Lord requires identification and substitution -- the fact of what Christ has done on the cross for mankind, how he gave His life so that I might live through His death, burial, and resurrection. If I am not living a substituted life, identifying with all He has done on my behalf, then I am living a life of self. For truly my only hope is Christ living in me. As Paul so eloquently and profoundly stated in Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

The horror of living selfishly ambitious is that I put the Lord up for open shame every time I choose to self-promote. As He lives within me and I am not living through His ambitions, He is subjected to this body of selfishness and sin. It is like I make a mockery of the Risen Lord who gave me the power over the body of flesh to walk in newness of life. According to James in the opening scripture, EVERY evil practice exists where envy and selfish ambition reside. One could easily say the so-called Seven Deadly Sins would be as eggs incubating in these nests of hell called envy and selfish ambition. I will go beyond that and state that any and all sin, EVERY evil practice as James states, are ovum gestating in the womb of selfish ambition. Can you imagine every evil practice? This suggests that every disgusting, revolting, sinful practice that you can even imagine is rooted in envy and selfish ambition. For truly, were these not the characteristics of Satan's sin against God? Did it not first start with envy of God's power and then inevitably to selfish ambition where he was cast from heaven? Even today, the Holy Spirit speaks through His scripture telling me that anyone who wishes or desires to be the Lord's must understand and live a life of submission. Otherwise, the opposite is a hellish devotion to self that reeks of spiritual death and self-sufficiency.

What is my desire today? Is it to only satisfy my own ambitions? If so, James through the Holy Spirit states that these desires will lead only to a more "practiced" life of evil. However, the Lord Jesus lays before me this day another choice -- Life -- His Life. It is there for the asking. It is there for the taking. This should be my main ambition in life!

Lord, take my life, my dreams, my goals,
And make my ambition, yours for souls!

Your barefoot servant,

Barefoot Rick

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