Staying focused on the goal Paul sets in 2 Corinthians 5:9 is difficult work. It means holding ourselves, year in and year out, to the highest ideal: not the ideal of winning souls or establishing churches or ushering in revivals but the ideal of pleasing Jesus Christ. Failure in spiritual work isn’t caused by a lack of spiritual experience; it’s caused by a lack of effort to maintain the highest ideal.

At least once a week, take stock before God and see if you are keeping your life up to the standard he has set. The standard must be your ruling passion, your master ambition. Paul is like a musician who cares nothing about the approval of his audience—so long as he catches the look of approval from his master.

Follow a lesser ambition to its natural conclusion, and you will see why it is so necessary to live facing the Lord. Any ambition that is separated from the highest goal, even by the tiniest degree, may end in our disqualification. “Therefore,” Paul says, “I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:26–27). Paul was constantly watching himself, constantly keeping himself in line, lest he lose sight of the ideal.

I have to learn to relate everything to the master ambition, maintaining it at all times. My worth to God in public is what I am in private. Is my master ambition to please him and be acceptable to him, or is it something less, no matter how noble?

Wisdom from Oswald

Wherever the providence of God may dump us down, in a slum, in a shop, in the desert, we have to labour along the line of His direction. Never allow this thought—“I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not! Wherever He has engineered your circumstances, pray. So Send I You, 1325 L