Story of the Day for Tuesday March 6, 2012
The Right Direction
It’s fine to be zealous, as long as the purpose is good.
Is “ambition” a virtue? How about “zeal”? I’ve never heard anyone claim that ambition can be a vice. But, if ambition is a positive quality, then we must also realize it can be used in destructive ways.
If you want to go to Toledo, Ohio, you will be concerned about two things: speed and direction. You’ll probably choose to drive a car over riding a donkey. But speed is a completely useless quality if we take the wrong highway and are headed to Omaha.
Ambition is speed.
Jesus acknowledged that the Scribes and Pharisees were ambitious. He said to them, “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert.” But Jesus continues by saying their ambition is destructive: “. . . and when you win a convert, he becomes twice the son of hell you are!”
When Paul writes to the church in Galatia, he warns them about Jewish legalists trying to infiltrate their congregation. These infiltrators want to persuade the church to abandon the freedom of the Gospel in order to submit to the regulations of the Old Covenant. Paul admits these legalists are go-getters. But speed must be coupled with direction. “It’s fine to be zealous (speed),” Paul says, “as long as the purpose is good (direction).”
During World War II, the Germans had a ball bearing factory in the city of Schweinfurt. The Americans reasoned that, if they could destroy the plant and stop the production of ball bearings, the production of war machinery would come to a halt and the Germans would have no choice but to surrender.
In two bombing raids to destroy the ball bearing plant, Americans lost 98 bombers and badly damaged another 138. Yet, despite the enormous losses, the Army Air Force leader, General “Hap” Arnold was ecstatic, “Now we have got Schweinfurt!”
After the war, the Army Air Force wanted to know which of their bombing targets were most effective. The Germans acknowledged the great damage done by bombing oil refineries, railroad yards, and bridges. But the Nazi chief of productions, Albert Speer, said the bombing of the ball bearing factory at Schweinfurt did not harm the German cause. They already had ample stockpiles of ball bearings. Beside, they were able to import all they wanted from Sweden and Switzerland. Not only that, the bombings destroyed the buildings, but not the machines that made the ball bearings. Focusing all that attention on the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt did virtually no harm. We were zealous in destroying the target. But we chose the wrong one.
It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going until you’re headed in the right direction.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)