“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5-6
It’s interesting how much we tend to rely on ourselves. It happens in our schoolwork, in our job searches, in our relationships, and in our ministry. We have good ideas, and we run with them. That’s how the world works, right? Proverbs 3:5-6 says the exact opposite. We should learn to trust in God more than ourselves. But what does that mean for college students surrounded by ambitious, intelligent peers?
Lead a Quiet Life
I was recently challenged to study Godly ambition in Scripture. This was the first verse that came up when I looked it up “ambition” in my concordance: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thess. 4:11-12). This totally goes against everything the world teaches us.
From a young age, we are driven to succeed, to make a name for ourselves, to change the world. But God is telling us in this verse to lead a “quiet life,” to “mind our own business.” In fact, in Isaiah 30:15 God says “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Far too often we forget to slow down and seek God. How is He calling you to lead a quiet life? How can you deepen your relationship with Him and depend on Him more than yourself?
The Apostle Paul didn’t trust in himself. In Philippians 3, he runs through his impressive spiritual resume, only to declare in verses 7-8, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” That’s right, he said everything.
Paul was a super religious and spiritual guy before he met Jesus. He even thought he was doing God a favor by hunting down Christians and having them killed. His view of God was warped and distorted until he actually met Jesus face to face. Knowing Christ changed everything for Paul. Do you really know Christ, or are you just striving to accomplish something you think will please God? Do your “righteous” actions flow from loving obedience or obligation and guilt?
Do Great Things
Paul did great things for Christ. He’s not exaggerating when he says in Romans 15 that “from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ” (v. 19). He literally was the first person to bring the Gospel to Europe, and he even says “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (v. 20). But, as he talks about all he has accomplished, Paul says “I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me” (v. 17-18).
That’s the key here. The reason Paul was able to make such a huge impact on the Kingdom of Heaven is that he was totally dependent on the King. He didn’t lean on his own understanding. He sought to know Jesus and did and said exactly what the Lord led him to.
So what about you? Are you frustrated because you don’t seem to making any headway in sharing the Gospel with your friends? Are you struggling to survive in school, but trying harder just isn’t working? Are you having a hard time figuring out what job offer you should accept? Is there any other area of your life where you just can’t seem to find success? Listen to Paul: Get alone with God, seek to Know Christ, and then He will do great things through you.