“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.'” Genesis 11:4
At first glance, nothing strikes me as particularly wrong about what the settlers at Babel were doing. They all had one language and decided to use their unity and see just what they could accomplish with their own hands. They found they could burn bricks and use mortar and build a building. They discovered that with large amounts of people, buildings can be tall and grandiose. So they set out to do just that out of fear that if they didn’t make their mark on the world, they would be dispersed and forgotten. In our American culture, this story sounds strikingly similar to a lot of our rags to riches, manifest destiny type tales of the day. To carve out a name for ourselves, to use the resources at hand to do something great, to be remembered in posterity are all noble ventures in the eyes of the meritocratic, success-driven American. When God looked down on Babel, however, he did not find a moving story of human ingenuity, he didn’t see a beautiful display of man’s capability, he saw a group of people usurping His glory. God, not man, is the builder of great things, the mover of unshakable forces, and the author of all things majestic. The pride of man is so often disguised by “honest” ambition and human powers. I find myself daily looking at the talents God gave me, the resources he put in my life, and scheming as to how I can use it all to make a name for myself. Even though I tell myself it is ambition, I’m afraid, unless the end of my actions are for the glory of God alone, my actions serve the demon inside all of us called pride.
Lord Jesus let us abandon our ambitions and desires for a name set apart in history, so that all our talents, gifts, and resources can be used to build your name and reputation over all the earth!