DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Is it wrong to be ambitious and want to get ahead in your career? I have to admit I’ve always had a strong desire to be successful, and I really work at it. But maybe I’m wrong, and Jesus doesn’t want us to be successful. — L.W.
DEAR L.W.: Does Jesus want us to be failures (which is what you seem to be implying)? No, of course not. Abraham worked hard and became a wealthy man; so did Job. Joseph worked his way up from his life as a slave to become prime minister of Egypt during a time of great crisis.
In the New Testament, Lydia was a successful merchant who became a believer and used her wealth to support the Apostle Paul’s ministry (see Acts 16:14ff.).
What did these individuals (and others I could mention) have in common? Was it simply their talent, or their drive, or their hard work? No doubt, these things entered into it, but the main thing they had in common was their commitment to God, and their desire to use their talents and their wealth for his glory.
The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).
Don’t overlook the dangers, however. If you’re not careful, ambition and the drive for success or wealth can easily lead you down the wrong path. Instead of using them for God, we become self-centered and prideful. Instead of helping others, we become concerned only for ourselves. This is why Jesus warned us against “the deceitfulness of wealth” (Mark 4:19).
Is Christ first in your life, or is ambition or wealth or success? Don’t let anything come between you and God, but turn to Christ and submit your life to his control.
Tribune Media Services 9/13