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Double, Double Toil and Trouble

Staff Member
But to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. Romans 2:8

On this day in 1054, Malcolm Canmore avenged his father, King Duncan I of Scotland, by slaying his killer, King Macbeth. (Yes, he was an actual historical dude!) Shakespeare’s play dramatized the story, adding a sense of mystical destiny and downplaying the real Macbeth’s promotion of Christianity, but the emotional heart of the account—unchecked ambition—didn’t require much massaging.

So much of history is stories of kings building monuments to themselves and then being unseated or overthrown by other kings who do the same thing, over and over. For all their wealth and power, it’s hard not to picture the broken head of the statue in the poem “Ozymandias,” half-buried in drifting sands, carrying the ironic inscription of its futility: “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

How do you do something with your life that matters beyond your life? By focusing your ambition on God. Ambition isn’t bad in and of itself; it depends on whom it’s focused. That requires humility—the understanding that, no matter how much you accomplish, it’s chump change compared to God’s works.

When you overcome your self-oriented agenda with seeking God’s greater glory, you’ll find contentment. You can only do that by focusing; your goals and energy on God’s character and agenda, not yours. Anything less makes you a Macbeth.

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