“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16).
Our newspaper headlines often prove the Bible is true. Along with a lot of good news that reveals the gracious gifts of God to others and their gifts to us, we read stories about disorder that we often hear called “disorderly conduct.” We learn about evil practices that sometimes result in the death of others or the punishment of criminals. Think about some of the sad events of the past week or so. How many have envy as a root cause or evil influence? A dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.” How many envy something someone or some group has, so they steal, riot, maim, or kill among other harmful acts? How many have lost their businesses or jobs because of rioters?How many people have suffered because of someone else’s selfish ambition; an ambition that drives them to slander and defame the character of another person or business? When we take some time to think about the evil practices we have indulged in or the evil practices that we condemn, how often have envy or selfish ambition played a part?
Ambition to serve the Lord and use His gifts as prayerfully, as lovingly, and as wisely as possible according to the Bible for the benefit of others and ourselves is not “selfish ambition.” Selfish ambition is self-centered instead of God-centered. James wrote, there is a “wisdom” that is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic, and that “wisdom” is often given to those who have envy or selfish ambition (James 3:15). Then, James wrote that those with heavenly wisdom should show forth a good life of pure, sincere, and peace-loving deeds done in humility.