The Price of Personal Ambition

Last week I heard from many of you, specific areas that the Lord brought conviction to your hearts as we saw selfish ambition as Jesus sees it, and as we were helped in spotting where it continually resides in our own hearts.

This week is Round 2, it is part 2 of what we began last week. So, if you weren’t convicted last week, then there’s still hope for you. And if you were, then this is the next dose. Like taking your anti-biotics to kill an infection, we need multiple rounds of treatment. Selfish-ambition is a stubborn illness, that requires this type of attention.

This past week I was reasoning with a little one that sin is not funny. But God doesn’t think sin is funny. At times we can be so casual and flippant with our sin, but Jesus was humiliated because of sin. God killed Jesus because of sin. Humanity has suffered incalculably due to sin.

Today the focus is selfish ambition. It is insidious. My plea is that you would see it, hate it, turn from it, and find freedom from it in the grace of Christ. Friends, my prayer is that you will see this sin as costly and destructive. 

We are beleaguered by the tendency to deal with our sin at a most superficial level. Satan loves this strategy. You can experience conviction from sin, you can feel bad about sin, and then feel better about sin as though it has been dealt with, and meanwhile it is still thriving underneath the surface alive and well. Psalm 36—sin flatters us.

It’s the equivalent of having thumbtacks sticking into your shoes and piercing the bottoms of your feet, and your solution is to take enough pain relievers that you don’t notice the stinging sensation any longer, so you can get back to walking. The symptoms are gone, and it leads you to conclude (wrongly) that the root cause is dealt with.

We talked about a short list of some of the manifestations of this problem:

  • Needing to be recognized and thanked for your ministry contributions or service to others
  • Favoritism in who you spend time with and serve
  • Viewing relationships for what you get out of them, rather than how you can be a blessing
  • Craving affirmation from people
  • Having a high view of your own opinions and perspectives
  • Coveting
  • Viewing people as threats or competitors in friendships or opportunities

Those are the types of things the disciples are dealing with right now. And Jesus is teaching them graciously, about what it means to follow Him, and what it will mean to die to self in these areas.

The words of Jesus are not always, “the best days are ahead” or “peace, peace” but at times are very difficult, and this is one such week. It’s been a rough few weeks for the disciples. In the past several weeks Peter has rebuked Jesus, the disciples have got caught arguing about who is the greatest, and now we are going to encounter the same story, different day.

Jesus continues to define discipleship for his men. He is graciously showing them that it is impossible to live their lives for the sake of personal significance and simultaneously follow Him. The paths are exclusive. 

At this point they have left this life behind to follow Jesus. They are believers. They counted the cost and gave up business interests, family comforts, reputation, and their own sin to follow Jesus. And yet they are still struggling to let go of the remaining self-love.

Jesus is going to train them by showing them the price of their sin. We are given many incentives in the Christian life. God reminds us of our new identity in Christ, He uses the testimony of those who have gone before us, He reminds us of our spiritual privileges, He promises rewards, and then at times, He motivates us by showing us the price of our sin.

Sin is expensive. Of course, it doesn’t seem that costly up front. Like sitting down with a trustworthy-looking loan officer who assures you that you are getting the deal of a lifetime, but doesn’t explain your interest rate or payment until after the paperwork is signed, the true cost of your sin isn’t immediately obvious. 

Oftentimes we see it in hindsight. But rather than wait to learn through hard knocks, Jesus gives the price tag up front this week. Selfishness is destructive and expensive. It costs you and it costs others.

3 Costs of Un-mortified Ambition

  1. The welfare of your siblings (38-42)
  2. The destiny of your soul (43-48)
  3. The usefulness of your service (49-50)

Your selfishness hurts other Christians.

(38) John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 

John comes to Jesus and feels to urge to do some ministry-tattle-tailing. The irony here is rich. The disciples are out at some point, and they see a guy. Just a random guy. This guy is a believer because he is doing ministry in Jesus name.

Perhaps he was one of the 70 who was given authority over demons. He is serving in the Jesus name. And the disciples attempt to stop him.

I can’t imagine the scene. They see him and start yelling: “Hey, hey you guy. What do you think you are doing?”

“Uh… just trying to serve and be a blessing. This person was afflicted by a demon so I decided to cast it out for them while I was preaching the Gospel.”

“No. No, no, no. No sir. You can’t do that. That is our job, okay.”

John’s words betray their motives… he was not following us. That was the issue. He isn’t a part of the little thing we have going here. He isn’t part of our little group.

We get this. You grab a sense of identity from the group you associate with and then elevate your group over others. These guys have over time began to equate the ministry entrusted to them by God with their own personal sense of identity and value. 

They are ruining kingdom ministry.

Here is this guy who loves Jesus trying to serve the afflicted, and these guys are trying to shut it down. The reason? He had become a threat. Think about it:

If more people are casting out demons, suddenly the disciples just went from being in high-demand to just being like everybody else. This was their unique selling proposition. Their distinguishing attribute that set them apart and made them special.

The irony couldn’t be richer. These same men just had a public ministry failure in Mark 9:13-29. They completely bungled an exorcism. You think that they are feeling a bit insecure and territorial? 

How stupid does sin make us? They were trying to prevent someone, afflicted and tormented by a demon from getting healed because of the potential threat to themselves. They find a guy who’s actually getting the job done and they try to prevent him… to the disregard of all the people whom he would minister to.

This is so typical of our hearts. Moses encountered the same situation in Numbers 11. 

Two men began prophesying, Eldad and Medad. And so, a young man came running with the news. Of course, it was a young man. This is a problem that is more acute in young men. He explains that two new guys have a ministry in the camp. And Joshua says to Moses, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” They are competing. They are watering down our brand. 

I love Moses’ response. Remember that Moses is the humblest man that lived. He says to Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.” 

Here is an older, wiser, more tempered man seeing right through the supposed ministry indignation. Moses says, is this about a concern over my standing? My territory in the eyes of the people? I would love to be one of thousands, lost in the mix if it meant the advancement of the kingdom. 

Can you say that? Give me a background role…

If you are fearful about your position in the church or with your group of friends, you will hurt people. Competitiveness blinds you from the true priorities. Self-awareness, self-regard in the church. Analyzing your pecking order in relationships, in influence, in gifting. This type of ambition literally destroys churches.

What’s the glorious opposite? Someone who is not ambitious… they are freed up to view other through the lens of maximum usefulness. If it’s through your ministry or friendship, great. And if it is through someone else’s that’s great too.

Jesus just shuts it down.

(39) But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 

“Don’t do that.” What are you guys thinking? He’s on our side! You just shot our own guy. No one casts out demons in the name of Jesus and then maligns me. This is the reversal of the when the Pharisees said that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebul.

He said that’s absurd. And then he lays don’t the principle under the application:

(40) “For he who is not against us is for us.

You have wrongly identified the enemy due to your ambition. You are viewing this guy who hasn’t maligned us, he hasn’t spoken against me, as being someone to shut down. Literally the idea is that, “he is on our side.”

This verse has been used improperly.

It doesn’t mean that anyone who isn’t openly hostile to Jesus is saved.

Why does Jesus phrase it this way? Their beef is that the man wasn’t giving them any props. It would almost seem that hypothetically if the man would have just said, “in the name of Jesus, and only by the marvelous training I received from his twelve disciples…” everything would have been good to go. The man is just serving Christ.

An example of when believers waste God-given time and energy on infighting. 

The point is that there are only two types of people—friends and foes. Allies or enemies. And if the goal is progress for the kingdom, then don’t concerned about whether the progress is coming through you or through your neighbor.

Does that mean that we stop discussing doctrine? Or these things are not important? No, Scripture elsewhere calls us to discern and test teaching, to uphold sound doctrine and reject false. We must take great care to protect Gospel-ministry.

The point here is the motive behind the rejection. The disciples weren’t rejecting this man because he was a threat to the people of God, but rather a threat to them personally. That’s the heart of this passage.

The elitist club mindset is crushed here. What does it mean practically? God is at work in many churches in the Valley. 

Anywhere were the true Gospel is preached and the to the degree that the Word of God is honored, there in that place Christ is building his church. Doesn’t mean that we don’t have distinctives, or believe in the specific work God has called us to. But we view other faithful ministries as an encouragement and not a threat. We would love to see dozens of churches growing and thriving all around us, holding dear the same things we do.

Now he makes it very personal.

(41) “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

Jesus wants to show here positively how close the relationship is with him and his people. In the best way possible, Jesus takes it personally when you show love, even the smallest act to one of his own.

Jesus loves his people. And when you do something as seemingly insignificant as giving a cup of water to a disciple, He keeps track of that and considers it an act worthy of rewarding. The immediate context is the twelve (Jesus says whoever gives you). And let’s be clear that handing out a cup of water is not an overwhelming contribution.

He doesn’t say whoever waters your flocks or fills your canteens. If you are lacking (due to persecution) even a drink, and for my sake brings it to you, I will pay that person back.

And Jesus felt it necessary to use promise-language: Truly I say… Amen, lego… he will surely not lose his reward. It is an emphatic negation. Strongest way of saying it could never happen, possible.

Jesus isn’t teaching that your deeds make you pleasing in His eyes. He isn’t teaching you that you should go dig wells for people who need water. His point is that God, in His kindness, rewards his people for serving one another, even in small ways.

This immediately infuses your service to others with purpose. So, it’s your job to brew coffee, or print and fold bulletins, or post sermons online, or pray for the saints, or reach out to meet practical needs in the body, or study to teach others. Whatever the case, your labor is not for men, and it isn’t in vain. It is ministering directly to God by serving His people. That’s the connection.

The promise is to those who believe God by faith. The participation isn’t in doing the good deeds. Nevertheless, God is his kindness rewards those who serve Him, by serving his people. What an encouragement.

But now Jesus gives the negative corollary of the same principle. The principle of how closely Jesus identifies with His people. First to bless, and now to curse.

(42) “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea. 

This principle is scary. Listen carefully as I state it: Jesus hates it when people prevent his followers from pursuing Him. In fact, if you were to rank sins, this is getting close to as bad as it gets.

Little ones are young or immature followers. We might refer to them as baby Christians. What, in the context is the causing to stumble? It is turning away from the faith. Causing little ones to apostatize. 

Here for the disciples it is the reality that in preventing this man from casting out demons (or attempting to prevent him) they were attempting to make him stumble in his allegiance to Jesus Christ.

Jesus says, for those who cause my weak followers to apostatize, they have a dreadful punishment coming. The punishment isn’t being drowned. That’s the preferable scenario. 

A heavy millstone is a “donkey-stone,” which is a giant flat, round stone that a donkey would push around on a threshing floor to crush grain. It weighed over 100 lbs. A Chapman University Study on American Fears found that nearly 1 in 5 Americans fears drowning. That doesn’t mean 4 out of 5 of us like the idea of death by drowning.

But rather it is an acute fear of almost 20% of the population. Drowning is terrifying. Fighting to breath. Darkness. No different in Jesus’ day. Josephus wrote about this type of death by drowning. Imagine a weight tied around your neck that was impossible to lift-off and dragging you to the bottom.

This is violent and graphic. But don’t miss the point, which is that it would be better to die a violent and terrifying death and avoid sinning in this way, than to enjoy life on earth and cause a believer to stumble.

Why? Because God’s judgment will be so perfect and so exacting, and this is something that God hates so much, that when you offend God in this way, the consequence is unbearable.

You want to go mess with people and defraud them? Then go sell knock-off Oakley sunglasses or fake Gucci handbags. That’s benign. No one suffered serious loss for paying $20 for some shades or a bag that were made in a factory next to the real thing. But defrauding people spiritually… that’s a whole different story.

We see from this passage that human beings have the ability to harm one another spiritually. This is a far more serious harm than physical harm like beating someone. The church at Corinth suffered from this issue. Spoke not only of causing a weaker brother to stumble, but even ruining the brother for whose sake Christ died. 

If Jesus Christ purchased that individual with his precious blood, then how precious and careful are we to be with one another? You belong to Him. You are His property. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:12 that if you sin against this brother you are sinning against Christ. God takes this so seriously. He is jealous and possessive and protective of His people.

This is a message for those who have been abused. Surely, in the grace of Christ, you are called to from the heart forgive as you have been forgiven. To trust God with the outcome. But God promises to vindicate, as we see here. God is not ignorant of your abuse, and He isn’t uncaring, and regardless of the human injustice or He will bring justice.

The disciples didn’t have any of this on their minds when they told that guy to quit serving and leave it to the professionals to do ministry. People get spiritually hurt when you haven’t died to your own self-importance.

What, in our context does it look like to cause a little one to stumble? Anything you do that discourages another believer in their pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything that prevents obedience in another Christian’s life. Anything that discourages another believer in their walk. 

Enticing them to sin overtly—you have some area in your life that is loose, and you want to encourage others to do it in order to feel better about it. Maybe you have a liberty you enjoy, and you introduce someone else to it.

Parents, discouraging expressions of faith in your little ones. Exasperating them. Hypocrisy that drives them to distrust God and His Word.

Encouraging others to sin. It could be your conduct and example. You strengthen and embolden others to sin because you fail to think through the principle of loving others as it pertains to your Christian liberties.

It could be that you overtly tempt others to sin. You encourage people to be on the edge. Maybe it’s something you can handle, but they can’t. The disciples were so self-focused they failed to consider how their desires were impacting others.

Jesus isn’t trying to scare the disciples out of the ministry but sober them in it. He needs them to see how urgent it is that they kill their self-importance.

We’ve experienced this in our own ministry. People with spiritual influence leading those who are weaker astray. Jesus is the good shepherd and is crushing that threat.

Jesus is now teaching them in various ways that He is to have pre-eminence in their lives. That compared to Jesus there is nothing else worth living for. Nothing else worth clinging to. That if there were to be a rival, He is in a class all by Himself. First this came in 8:34-38; now again here; next in 10:24-31. 

Whatever you must let go of, in order to grab on to Jesus, is worth it. The welfare of your spiritual siblings—your dear brothers and sisters in Christ depend upon it.

3 Costs of Un-mortified Ambition

  1. The welfare of your siblings (38-42)
  2. The destiny of your soul (43-48)
  3. The usefulness of your service (49-50)

We aren’t going to read vv. 44 or 46 because they aren’t in Scripture. Along the way, scribes decided the passage would sound better to repeat the phrase included in v. 48. Jesus did say the words in v. 48. But this addition came into the text several hundred years after the Gospel was written.

The older documents, the ones that are closer to when Mark actually wrote do not contain vv. 44 or 46. It should cause us to be amazed at how carefully God preserved his Word for us.

(43) “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 45 “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

The words here come suddenly and unadorned. They are straightforward and pointed, and again graphic.

Jesus has shifted here. It isn’t a warning about causing your siblings to stumble, but a warning about not putting to death that which causes you to stumble.

Why does Jesus say this here? Because the tendency in the disciple’s hearts and the tendency for you and I is not to take this sin seriously enough. 

His point of course isn’t to mutilate yourself. There have of course been people throughout church history who have a zeal that isn’t according to knowledge and physically destroy their bodies in an effort to control the flesh. 

But blind cripples still have the same heart. You can’t control the flesh by human methods. The point instead, is that no sin is worth losing your soul over. No one in calculating the relative value of their limb or their life choses the former. If you die you lose them both.

And Jesus says if you don’t kill selfish ambition you will go to hell. People who live for their own glory go to hell. Because God saves people from worshipping themselves, and makes them worshippers of his glory.

This word for hell is graphic once again. Gehenna is the word, which was a transliteration two Hebrew words meaning the “Valley of Hinnom.” The Valley of Hinnom is a real place. It is right outside of Jerusalem to the south. And it was the town dump.

Literally it was where the garbage would go. Human excrement. The bodies of criminals. Spoiled food. And in this valley, the waste was burned… continually. There was always a fire going.

It has a revolting and twisted past. This was the Valley where Ahaz worshipped the ancient pagan god Molech. The worship of Molech involved child sacrifices, where babies were burned alive, which Ahaz did in 2 Chronicles 28:3, as did Manasseh in 33:6, Jeremiah in his ministry renounced this practice repeatedly (Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35). 

Jeremiahs calls it Topeth. Topeth means drum in Hebrew. Why was it called that Valley of Drum? Because drums were beaten upon to drown out the cries of babies being burned alive. Horrifying.

King Josiah was the one who finally put an end to the practice. Josiah, a righteous king, defiled the Valley to put an end to people burning their children alive there as human sacrifices (2 Kings 23:10). From that time on it became the town dump.

It’s about as close as you can get to a picture of hell on earth. Rancid, putrid, burning nonstop, defiled. That’s Gehenna.

What about the worm?

Jesus is quoting Isaiah:

Isaiah 66:24—Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.

Undying worms. Unquenchable fire. That’s the imagery of Hell.

The point is that when someone dies, and they have never repented of their sin and trusted in Christ they go to Hell. I confess my view of God is so small. I struggle with this truth. I would rather the Bible said sinners are annihilated. God’s people get eternal bliss, and everyone else gets snuffed out—the wages of sin is death, right?

Well yes, but it is a death that never ends. The worm doesn’t die. 

What makes you scared of the darkness is hell. It is a place that is full of misery and regret. It is full of gnashing of teeth, which is a sign of anger and rage.

Jesus, why are you being so negative, and threatening and scary? Drowning people with weights around their necks? Burning people up and never giving them relief? 

I wonder if John was defensive. That’s how my heart would have reacted. “Woah… what’s gotten into you? I just said I told the guy to cut it out. What’s the big deal? Why are you going off all of a sudden?”

And that’s why we are here. And its why Jesus has to give this hard message. He isn’t trying to get his believing disciples to be afraid that they might go to hell. He is trying to get them to take the matter of self-importance seriously.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I got it Jesus. I’ve gotta stop being so selfish. Or more commonly in a church like ours, “man, I’ve been really convicted lately about my selfishness, and my self-importance… it’s brutal.”

Are you convicted? Do you see it and hate it? Do you view it with the sobriety of something so powerful that it drags people to Hell?

You say, but pastor, you don’t understand how drastic that is. If I were to deal with my sin in that way I would get embarrassed. It would be inconvenient. I would have to confess sin to others. I might look like a freak to my co-workers. I might lose relationships or status. 

I might have to change something in my life that is very costly to my reputation. Maybe I can just kind of slow things down a bit, or make a few adjustments without getting radical. If you are in that spot, then you have yet to repent of this issue.

You know I can tell when someone is under true conviction by Spirit? They aren’t still trying to find a way to have their proverbial cake and eat it to. People regularly speak of wanting to be free from the guilty feelings and consequences of my sin, but without the painful process of being completely severed from it.

Symptoms of superficial repentance…

  • Not indicting yourself (you love something else more than Christ)
  • Not identifying obedience (what does honoring the Lord look like)
  • Not renewing your thinking (what truths must I believe)
  • Not experiencing the pain of the kill (denying yourself in the path of obedience)
  • Not joyful and hopeful (repentance = zeal and refreshment in the Lord)
  • Not humbling yourself (you keep things on the fringes in relationships w/others)

The excuses are endless about all the reasons why the hand is so vital, or the foot is so necessary. Can I just say, “I understand”? Your hand and your foot are important. They are not essential to life, but they are extremely important. You can’t live without a brain or a heart or properly functioning lungs. But life without a hand? It’s inconvenient, painful, but entirely possible. There are plenty of people who are maimed and crippled. They aren’t vital.

You know there are biblical examples of those who didn’t heed this warning. Diotrephes. Judas. Herod. It is not rewards in heaven that Jesus is talking about here. This is being saved or not being saved.

Words like these would cause us to despair if it weren’t for the comfort of knowing that the love of God has given us grace that is greater than all our sin. There is no selfishness that could out-sin the payment made on the cross. Jesus died not only for your love of self-importance that wounded your siblings and would destroy your soul, but for every time you go back to it after having been saved.

This is our Savior!

Jesus wants these men to take ambition this seriously. Jesus wants you and I to take ambition this seriously. He wants us to hate it, that we might turn from it. 

What is it that is more powerful than personal ambition?

2 Corinthians 5:14–15—14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Paul is writing to a church that took pride in appearances, about others in ministry who took pride in appearances, about what ought to have been the controlling principle in their lives.

We are controlled—impelled, urged, guided, directed—it refers to both the boundaries that hem someone in, as well as the driving motivation to continue. You say it this way, “the love of Christ provides the path for us to go on, and the motivation and drive to continue down it.”

What is he talking about?

Grasping personally, experientially, that God died for you because He loves you, re-orients your life. Paul prayed that the church would understand this incomprehensible love in Ephesians 3:19. How does this work practically?

The compulsion to seek your own self-importance is powerful. It is scary to think of letting go of it. It is not something that we easily come to hate. But to consider that Jesus loves me, and I have no more cause for fear. To consider that Jesus loves me, and I am secure in his love.

Now I can part ways with the ambition that I once held so dear. 

3 Costs of Un-mortified Ambition

  1. The welfare of your siblings (38-42)
  2. The destiny of your soul (43-48)
  3. The usefulness of your service (49-50)

(49) “For everyone will be salted with fire. 

What does it mean that everyone will be salted with fire? Literally everyone will be seasoned with fire. Everyone? Everyone going to hell? 

This enigmatic statement, unique to Mark, is difficult to interpret. About 15 possible explanations have been suggested.

There are over a dozen views on what this verse means. It only occurs here in Mark. Best clues would be the immediate context, and anywhere else in Scripture that concepts of salt and fire are found together.

Key is gar (for) because everyone will be salted by fire. Get rid of personal ambition, because everyone will be seasoned by fire.

It seems to me that the best fit here is to understand this referring to the character transformation that takes places through suffering. The salting or seasoning is the change, and the fire is the trial or here even the persecution.

1 Peter 1:7—so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

1 Peter 4:12—Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 

Jesus is telling them not only must they be radical in dealing with personal ambition, but God will be faithful to bring the necessary refinement into their lives to wean them off of it. 

I can remember times in my Christian life, where I was so frustrated with not getting what I personally wanted. I mean just the daily frustrations that come in life, but a macro frustration with being limited, not having the opportunities I wanted. God was so faithful in continually preventing me gaining that which I wanted so desperately because He loved my soul.

Like I wise parent who doesn’t over-indulge a child out of concern for his or her long-term well-being, your heavenly Father loves you enough to deprive you when you need it, in order that you might be refined.

And through the heat, through the painful process of refinement, we gain the outcome, which we all desire. Have you once regretted the fire when it produces greater holiness? Greater love for the master? Greater assurance? Of course not. We love the peaceful fruit of righteousness leftover after being purified with fire.

(50) “Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Salt is the character of true discipleship. It is distinct. It is for the preservation of the world. Here in our context it is being willing to be a servant of all, it is not competing for position and prominence, it is taking up your cross to follow Jesus. Summarized it is self-denial and self-sacrifice in the path of obedience.

Salt was essential in the first century. You didn’t have refrigeration so salt wasn’t merely used to make bland food taste yummy, although flavoring was part of it. It was especially about preservation. Salt your meats so they don’t spoil. 

If your ministry loses the distinctiveness of personal sacrifice, and is corrupted by personal ambition, then you lose your Gospel influence. Jesus it talking about someone who leaves behind the faith. A personally ambitious Christian is as useful to the kingdom as salt that is corrupted by gypsum and isn’t pure and salty. 

This is a summary of all that we have been learning along with the disciples. And you can see that by Jesus final words: be at peace with one another.

What produces harmony and peace in the body of Christ? Christians who aren’t competing with one another. Christians who are willing to sacrifice their personal preferences for the good of the body. Christians who don’t have to have it their way.

Well this was a helpful diagnosis for these men. They aren’t going to get it yet. We are going to be back on this topic again in a few weeks later in Chapter 10. The peace is going to get disrupted again by personal ambition.

But this is part of the process. You don’t change the first time or the first 10 times you hear something. Jesus is patiently shepherding, patiently in it for the long-haul. He doesn’t give up (not on them, and not on you and me).