Summary: About how Paul’s understanding of ambition challenges our own ambitions.
Begin with question: Are you an ambitious person? (or What do you think of when you think of
May cause some mixed feelings… because the idea of ambition conjure up and capture very different
Ambition isn’t something we have to be taught…
• Don’t have to put ambition in the heart… it’s there … though often quenched along the way.
• Ask a child.. whatever they come to like… they want to be the greatest.
• My kids… NBA… professional soccer player… they have it all planned out..
• No one says I want to start a business… to be mediocre… I want to grow up and become
• We are pulled… drawn towards greatness.
We all have at least the traces of ambition at work in us…
Ambition = an aim or objective that somebody is trying to achieve; one’s aspiration, desire,
Today… God wants to challenge our sense of ambition.
Series: Extraordinary Living… hearing the heart of the Apostle Paul… transformed… impacted
Paul knew a lot about ambition… but what was common… has now been filled with something
In response to some potential rivalry between a couple good members of the Philippians’ church… he
writes these words.:
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his
love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy
complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do
nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than
yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests
Many have considered these the most beautiful words of the New Testament… some the most
challenging words of the New Testament.
Many of us may read these words and assume that they are call to get rid of ambition.
This is not a call to quench our ambition but to exchange it… a call from ordinary
ambition to extraordinary ambition.
Often told ambition itself is a sin….
> Do nothing out of SELFISH ambition.
Ambition is used as positive except when selfish.
Paul said, ’Do nothing out of selfish ambition.’… not ‘do nothing.’.
God created you to be ambitious…Ambition itself is a good thing… a gift from God.
The issue isn’t ambition… but the type. You need ambition. Every life is intended to embrace it’s
creative nature and it’s power to influence… to effect the world around them.
Actually Paul speaks of a new ambition…
> . 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider
others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own
interests, but also to the interests of others.
Christ has come not to quench our ambition but to transform it… to change the
very center of our drive and determination from self to servant.
The new ambition which Christ imparts is to become a servant of others for God.
Background to the human story… angels created to glorify God… but one who we later have
referred to as the devil or Satan… who sought that glory. Seeks to bring all creation into the
There is no greatness to be achieved within the limitations of yourself. Greatness is only found
in what you can do to add to the lives of others.
Paul tells us something of how this new ambition works…
1. Our new ambition to serve others for God is internally formed by our new life
and love in Christ.
Verse 1 - Arises from new spiritual motives within
• You can’t force genuine care and compassion …
• Ex of communism… the end is right but the means are wrong
So Paul appeals to what they should now already have discovered as the greatest of values…
Paul appeals with 4 reasons…the ‘if’ clauses are really rhetorical… not asking if these qualities exist,
but whether they are being realized. Could replace ‘if’ with ‘since…’
Our ambition to serve each other can and should flow from…
• Finding new life in Christ which you share in common
• Knowing the comfort of Christ’s love
• Sharing in the fellowship of the same Holy Spirit at work in you through Christ
• Already knowing something of tenderness and compassion
Because you ALREADY HAVE THESE SOURCES WITHIN YOU…have same love and
purpose… won’t agree with everything… but same ultimate goal unites us in heart and will.
Only one thing will stop you… the wrong ambition.
2. Our new ambition to serve others for God does not think lower of oneself…
but less of oneself.
The humility that serves our new ambition can’t be confused with just having low self