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Ambitions: Temporary or Permanent

John 6:25-27
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’ (NIVUK)

After the miraculous feeding of 5,000 people, the crowd were hungry for more of Jesus.  But when they found Him, Jesus told them the truth about their motives.  They were only seeking Him because of what they could get out of Him!  They were not looking for the divine source of His miraculous power, but were hoping He would keep on providing them with free meals.

In the wilderness, when Jesus was tempted by Satan to use His power to make bread to feed Himself, Jesus rebuked Satan and said "It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”" (Matthew 4:4).  Jesus applied the same principle to these food-hunters.  They had put so much effort into trying to find Jesus, but their aim was only to satisfy their stomachs. Instead, Jesus wanted them to be hungry for the Word of God which would come out of His mouth.  And, more than that, He wanted them to be truly hungry for Himself: the Bread of God (John 6:33), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the eternal life-giver (John 6:40).

Although we live for only a short time in the temporary homes of our bodies, we often believe the lie that everything we see is permanent.  It is not.  Food is not everything, nor is wealth, fame or power.  It will all disappear.  However, Jesus wants us to use our temporary lives so that we might have eternal life through Him.  But people whose ambitions are limited to getting what they want for themselves have a different god: themselves.  Philippians 3:19 describes their worship-style, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”

Those who are hungry for Jesus, willing to focus all their hopes and energies on Him, will not just be satisfied for a day - they will live with Him for ever.  Although we can never gain our salvation through what we do (Ephesians 2:8-9), it requires energetic determination, the Word’s instruction and the Holy Spirit’s power to stop focussing on short-term personal benefits and to seek the Lord.  Ambition is a matter of priority: seek Jesus first and then trust Him for the rest, as Jesus said, "... seek first his [Father God's] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

Eternal Father. Thank You that Jesus has the authority to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. Please forgive me for making the small things of everyday life such a big focus, worrying about what I have and do not have, working hard for temporary gain. Please help me to put as much effort into seeking Your will and ruthlessly prioritising those things which please You, so that I may enjoy Your fellowship and be a good witness of the grace of Christ. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams