Luke writes concerning God’s thoughts and values in contrast to man’s, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (16:15); and God instructs us in Isaiah, “ my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (55:8,9).

Our attention is drawn to the difference of things esteemed. The dictionary tells us this word means “favourable opinion on the basis of worth especially that based on moral characteristics; to value highly; to regard as having excellence or worth.”

Never has there been an age when so many people have been held in esteem for many and varied reasons. Sports heroes, movie stars, academics, astronauts, artists and so on, the so-called achievers are put on pedestals and held in honour. If someone makes a lot of money he is often revered; it matters very little how he made it, by fair means or foul; the point is, he has ‘achieved’ and is therefore ‘highly esteemed’ . All this is associated with ambition, drive and a desire for prominence in the eyes of men.

Is ambition wrong? How does God view what man counts estimable?

A few words firstly on the above aspirations of men. How long will such fame last? In a few short years the sporting heroes have grown older and a new set moves in to take the place of the ‘aging’. The movie scene is very fickle and new stars are born and acclaimed, as are all the famous. They strive for a corruptible crown that fades so quickly and their day of glory is past. Are we ambitious for ourselves or our children? If so then this will be the end result, but God says, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa 66:2). In the gospel of Luke our Lord says, “Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (18:13,14). God esteems the humble and contrite man. He has great value in His eyes.

Let us for a few moments consider what humility really is. Does it present a picture of one with face hidden, too ‘humble’ to look up? Is he an insipid individual too afraid to present a thought because he thinks it might have no value? Is he without ambition of any sort and so lacks drive?

On the contrary. One excellent definition of humility was presented by Brother John Carter who expressed it thus:

“Humility is a ‘right estimation of oneself in the sight of God’; it is ‘the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so; the thinking truly therefore lowly of ourselves’. And that thinking truly, in all of us brings a sense of dependence, of unworthiness; of the need for mercy and forgiveness, and of God’s grace. Jesus was the Son of God … and as a Son and a servant he had the will of the Father to do. Therefore keeping self in subjection, he could say, ‘I am meek and lowly of heart’.”

A humble contrite spirit is far from boring and lacking in character. Such are in fact totally in control, recognizing in themselves true estimations. They see themselves as God sees them. This very attitude is what has drawn them to God. They see their total dependence on Him and this is the very quality God can work with. They are teachable and will seek to know God as their Father and will seek to be like Him.

Is it ambition to want to become like God? Yes, an ambition to which we all should aspire. God created man in His own image with this purpose in view but he forfeited this privilege by trusting in the lie of the serpent. The ambition of the first pair was to be like the elohim without regard to God’s law but the Lord exhorts us through the words of Paul, “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves … Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God … And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him” (Phil 2:3,5,8,9). And to us the Apostle Peter says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet 5:6).

Is ambition wrong?

“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psa 17:15).