The “Master Ambition” of Pleasing the Great Conductor

“Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him… we are made manifest to God….” -2 Cor. 5.9, 11

There is something glorious and almost transcendent about a well-trained and fine-tuned orchestra in concert. The stringed instruments, the wind instruments, the keys and percussion all functioning together in the quiet introductions, the mounting crescendos, and the climactic bursts of sound seem to speak more to the issues of history and mankind than most modern songs. (I commend Beethoven’s 7th symphony, 2nd movement as a personal favorite.)

One of the remarkable characteristics of an orchestra’s Conductor is that he has an acute ear for every note and tone that is to be struck in the piece, and he is jealous for it to be sounded precisely according to the proper design. We need to be cognizant of the fact that our great Conductor and King is looking for us to “live, move, and have our being” in a particular manner, one that reflects His own character and government, and this is only accessible to those who are joyfully given to abiding in Him. There is a certain tone, a particular orderliness, a certain symphonic unity that ought to be conveyed in our lives, and it is not based upon culture, background, or societal relevance.

It is a heavenly intonation and inflection, bearing the Lord’s own timbre and resonance, and you, dear saint, are one of His prized instruments. The way that we speak and listen, the way that we steward money, time, and relationships, the way that we carry ourselves as those who “are made manifest” before the Conductor; these are the issues of the Kingdom.

It is not a matter of pleasing an audience, for indeed, if we lose sight of the Conductor’s purpose and desire, things get distorted and disorderly. Ungainly notes and rhythms find their way into the piece.

If we cease to have as our “master ambition” the good pleasure of God Himself, immediately we fall prey to self-consciousness, performance-oriented obedience, and the fear of man. When we look past the Conductor and unto the audience, and the “notes” we strike in life take on an awkward and man-centered expression. All at once we disappoint the desires of our Master, and fail to convey His Kingdom to the “audience.”

We need to be able to say with Elijah, “The Lord, before whom I stand,” with Abraham, “Here am I,” and with Paul, “…we are made manifest to God…” 

Unless the Lord has the whole man, lock, stock, and barrel, there is no sending. -Art Katz

There is human gusto enough in each of us to muster up a smile and a “God bless you” once or twice a week in meetings. But to emanate and transmit the heavenly notes- that is, the very wisdom and power of Jesus Christ- in the low points, the crescendos, and the climaxes of life? This requires our being apprehended by the “master ambition” of laboring to “be pleasing to Him.” 

It is arduous work to keep the master ambition in front.

…. Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.

Any ambition which is in the tiniest degree away from this central one of being ‘approved unto God’ may end in our being castaways. Learn to discern where the ambition leads, and you will see why it is so necessary to live facing the Lord Jesus Christ.

-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Mar. 17th selection

If our ambition is anything less or other than “pleasing Him,” we will be the culprits in sounding off in a way that He has never intended, and the world will be able to tell. There is a demonstration of God yet waiting to be made through a people. It is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” substantial glimpses of the King and His Kingdom in and through the day-to-day affairs of the saints. We cannot afford to function as a “noisy gong” or a “clanging cymbal,” loveless, lifeless, and robotic. We cannot afford to be pulled and tugged by the “approval of the audience.” Rather, we are called as “instruments of righteousness,” which is to say, witnesses to His resurrection life. We are not mere tools for ministry, but those who belong to Him; instruments indeed, but not in the clinical, dispassionate sense. We are sons and bond-servants before the Master who is also the Father, and it is through that remarkable union that His “manifold wisdom” is displayed among the nations.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us… – 2. Cor. 5.20a

I shall sleep in Christ; and when I awake, I shall be satisfied with His likeness. Oh, for arms to embrace Him! Oh, for a well-tuned harp! -Last words of Samuel Rutherford

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