17 May, Tuesday – Ambition

17 May

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James 4:1-10

Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray and don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires.

You are as unfaithful as adulterous wives; don’t you realise that making the world your friend is making God your enemy? Anyone who chooses the world for his friend turns himself into God’s enemy. Surely you don’t think scripture is wrong when it says: the spirit which he sent to live in us wants us for himself alone? But he has been even more generous to us, as scripture says: God opposes the proud but he gives generously to the humble. Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. Look at your wretched condition, and weep for it in misery; be miserable instead of laughing, gloomy instead of happy. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

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Mark 9:30-37

After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.

They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

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Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

I was brought up in an environment that was more comfortable than many others. Growing up, we never lacked for anything which we wanted and, as the eldest among three children, I would receive a little bit more attention with which also came expectation. So when it came to the milestones in life, I always felt the need to live up to my parents’ expectations. It didn’t help to have a younger sister who was the perennial over-achiever from a scholastic standpoint.

When I finally graduated from university and secured a job with one of the top advertising agencies (an MNC), I was over the moon. Fired up with ambition, I worked hard (rather uncharacteristically) to make sure that I succeeded on my own terms. No job was too small nor too difficult. Through many twists and turns, as well as one or two ‘mid-life crises’, I found myself eating humble pie more than once when I was ‘let go’ by my employers in China and Dubai.

Admittedly, I sought refuge each time in the comfort of my family and loved ones. It was only after going for various retreats and learning to discern and ‘listen to His voice’ did I realise that God was speaking to me and carrying me on his shoulders all those times I fell down. Through those trials, He was actually strengthening me and preparing me for the work that He truly wanted me to do. Over the past few months, I have been reflecting on the journey I have been taking and slowly but surely, He is revealing the road ahead through other people around me.

Brothers and sisters, I would never have been able to come to this new realization, nor to look at the plight and sufferings of those around me with different coloured lenses, unless I had been made aware of the pride that was in me all those years ago. That last major blow certainly took the wind out of my sails for quite a while and showed me how being prideful was leading me down the wrong path. Today, I walk with my head held high for a different reason. For I know that God, my father, is holding me up and carrying me on His shoulders. And that Jesus walks with me, each and every day.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer – Abba Father, as you work in us, place in us a new heart and a yearning for you to fill it with humility, compassion and love for one another. Make us your instruments of love and unity.

Thanksgiving – Thank you Father for filling us with the Holy Spirit and for bestowing upon us the talents and gifts that we should be proud of and to glorify your name.

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