The Standard February 24, 2022
It can be a tricky balance to be ambitious yet not selfishly ambitious. Certainly, God wants us to use our talents, do our best and make a positive impact in our communities. While the world around us largely sends a message that we deserve comfort, luxury, recognition and social status, Scripture spells out different ideals. Jesus modeled the opposite kind of ambition, rooted in godly wisdom.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:13-17)
Peace is more likely to be present when jealousy and selfish ambition are not. It is easy to look around and identify the chaos that erupts from people elevating their own interests far above those of others. Instead, we should be ambitious in seeking wisdom and developing our gifts with humility. If at some point we excel and find ourselves in positions of power, hopefully we will use them to do good and to help those who need it. All that we are and all that we have are not things about which we can boast. Without God’s help, we would be nowhere. Consider how Jesus lowered himself in the ultimate way, choosing to serve rather than to be served.
“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:1-8)