The second step in this ringing call to service is this: ambition
in service. |Launch out into the deep
.| The shore waters are largely over-fished. Out in the deeps are fish that have never had smell or sight of bait or net. Here, near shore, the lines get badly tangled sometimes, and committees have to be appointed to try to untangle the lines and sweeten up the fishermen.
And the fish get very particular about the sort and shape of the bait. Some men have taken to fishing wholly with pickles, but with very unsatisfactory results. The fish nibble, but are seldom landed apparently. And just a little bit out are fish that never have gotten a suggestion of a good bite.
There are deeps all around. One might fairly give an inward personal turn to the word. There are personal deeps that have not yet been sounded. There are untouched deeps in prayer, in Bible study, and in the winning of others. There are deeps in acquaintance with Jesus, in purity of life, in sacrifice and in giving whose bottom no greasy lead has yet touched. |Out into the deep,| comes that quiet intense inner voice of Jesus spoken into one's innermost heart.
There are the great deeps in service waiting our coming. Roundabout every church is a fringe of deep, sometimes a deep fringe and broad, of those practically untouched by the warm message of Jesus; and around every Christian Association of men and of women. In the heart and on the edges of every village and town and city unfathomed deeps lie; deeps in a man's own state, deeps in our land, great untouched deeps in the world.
Wherever there is a man who has not felt the warm side of the story of Jesus' dying there is a deep. Wherever a group of such can be found is a deep increased in depth by the number in the group. Wherever the great crowds are gathered together to whom no word at all has come, neither by personal touch nor printed page nor any other wise, there is the deepest deep. With a deep glow in His eyes as He speaks the word, and the tenderness and softness of deep emotion, and the earnestness of one who has Himself been in the deep Jesus says anew to us to-day, |out into the deep.|
We are to be ambitious in service. Jesus was ambitious. He reached out for all, those nearest, those farthest. He talked of all nations, of a world. His follower must have a long reach to keep up. That word ambition has been much abused. It has been used much in connection with selfish self-seeking, until that meaning has become almost its whole meaning in the thinking of many people. But with the purpose dominant in Jesus we can properly use it in its old literal meaning. Originally it simply meant going around, being used in the sense of going out among people soliciting their favor or their votes.
It has the fine vitality of that word |go| in it. That for which a man is ambitious decides the quality of the word. A pure, holy purpose makes the intense reaching for it pure and holy too. An intense reaching out to the farthest reach of the Master's word, that finds expression in the dominant spirit of the life, in the service, in the giving, the sacrificing, the praying -- this is the true ambition.
Paul uses three times a word that has the force of our word ambition. The American Revision uses ambition in the margin for it. In advising the group of followers in Thessalonica he says, |Study to be quiet.| The practical force of the phrase there is this: be ambitious to be unambitious in the world's abused meaning of ambitious. In writing the second time to the friends at Corinth where his motives had been much criticised he said, |I make it my aim (or ambition) to be well-pleasing unto Him.|
And later, in writing to the Christians at Rome, whom he had never seen, he said that he had made it his aim or had been ambitious to preach the Gospel where nobody had yet gone. The literal meaning of the word he uses is something like this, striving from a love of honor. And we may find a fine meaning in that which was doubtless used otherwise.
It was a matter of honor with Paul to do as he was doing. And he would have the honor of having fully carried out his Master's wish. He coveted earnestly the honor of being always pleasing to his Master both in life and in the sort and reach of his service. Here are Paul's three ambitions: to be wholly free of the fires of worldly ambitions; to be well-pleasing to Jesus, his Lord; to reach out beyond, where nobody had yet gone with the story of Jesus' dying and living again.
Paul was obeying Jesus. Jesus said to those fishermen on Galilee's waters, |Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.| Paul said, |I have steadily made it the one thing I drove hard at in service, to get out beyond all other lines and nets to where nobody has yet gone.|