Tuesday, July 05, 2011

He Was Delighted to Be a Doorkeeper

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10
The value which he set upon the sanctuary is presented in a very striking light by the comparison, that he would prefer having a place at the very doors of the temple, to his having full possession of the tents of wickedness, the plain import of which is, that he would rather be cast into a common and unhonoured place, provided he were among the people of God, than exalted to the highest rank of honor among unbelievers. A rare example of godliness indeed! Many are to be found who desire to occupy a place in the Church, but such is the sway which ambition has over the minds of men, that very few are content to continue among the number of the common and undistinguished class. Almost all are carried away with the frantic desire of rising to distinction, and can never think of being at ease until they have attained to some station of eminence.

--John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 84:10
I'm rebuked by these words.


Anonymous said...

Really? I don't see you as one who would be described by that last sentence.

pilgriminconflict said...

I guess I must be good at hiding it.

When I was converted as a sophomore at Stanford almost 9 years ago, I traded academic ambition (be the best student I can be) for spiritual ambition (be the best Christian I can be). I simply traded the pursuit of one kind of personal distinction for another kind.

It masquerades itself as passion for God and His glory when so much of it is passion for self and passion for personal distinction.

It's a subtle, deeply rooted sin in my heart that God has begun to attack more ferociously than ever before since my arriving here in Nairobi.

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!
Proverbs 15:11

And yet You love me the same. You are amazing God!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I guess you do!

This can be a somewhat tricky one, I think - after all, there is good ambition (no, I haven't read Rescuing Ambition yet, though it comes highly recommended, and I already like Harvey as an author). I'm not by nature a very ambitious person, so perhaps that's a blessing for me with regard to this particular sin - however, I do struggle with my motivations in many other areas where my flesh wars against the proper, godly motivation for X, whatever X is...

Fortunately, He loves us too much to not refine us! May we love Him all the more.

pilgriminconflict said...

Hey brother,

Thanks for the pointer to the book. Actually, I've read it! It's quite good!

You're right. There is good ambition. But I think that's what makes selfish ambition so deceptive (and why I could ignore it for so long). You can easily convince yourself that it's really the good kind of ambition, and of course that's what the old master sin would love for you to believe.

It's the good things that most easily become the worst idols.

Amen. I'm so glad that our Father is more committed to burning away my dross than I am.

Miss you, brother.

Anonymous said...

I miss you, too, brother!

Hmm - did we actually talk about the book once? I think we did :-)

"It's the good things that most easily become the worst idols." Sadly, this is very true. It reminds me of a couple of classics by C.S. Lewis which I've recently re-read or am currently re-reading: The Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters. Both are amazing books, if you haven't already read them!

pilgriminconflict said...

No, I haven't read those. C.S. Lewis is one author that for some reason I've neglected (don't know why). Would you believe I've never read an entire C.S. Lewis book?

But I'm glad that they are available on Kindle! I've just added them to my reading list so I hope to get to them sometime in the next couple of months. Thanks for the pointer brother.

If we talked about Rescuing Ambition, sorry but I totally forgot! =)

Anonymous said...

Lewis: you're in for a treat, then! I'd love to hear what you think about them at some point.

Rescuing Ambition: not to worry - if we did discuss it, I forgot as well :-)

But back to the topic of your post. I've done some more thinking about what I wrote above concerning my own ambition. I've come to the conclusion that while I don't tend to have grand ambitions, I can categorize my competitiveness in lesser things (sports, music, even games) as a type of ambition (Win! Be the best!) - and if I do categorize it thus, then my ambition can indeed run amok. And this ambition cannot be disguised as godly ambition - it's just plain pride... :-(