In-person worship services will be held as scheduled this Sunday. Please use discretion when determining whether roads are safe for your personal travel.
If you are unable to travel, consider joining worship online HERE at 7:30, 9, 11 or 5pm, on-demand at Resurrection’s YouTube channel, or on TV at KMCI 38 at 8am or 11am.
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13 Are any of you wise and understanding? Show that your actions are good with a humble lifestyle that comes from wisdom. 14 However, if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, then stop bragging and living in ways that deny the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. Instead, it is from the earth, natural and demonic. 16 Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil.
James believed we can tell the difference between the kind of wisdom God gives people and natural, earthly (even demonic) wisdom. Scholar William Barclay said verse 16 gave clear standards for identifying false, destructive wisdom. “The most notable thing about it is that it issues in disorder. That is to say, instead of bringing people together, it drives them apart. Instead of producing peace, it produces strife.” *
King Jesus, the apostle Paul urged his Roman readers to “be the best at showing honor to one another” (Romans 12:10). Guide me to follow James, Paul and Jesus, not all the voices that urge me to “watch out for #1.” Amen.
I love the word ambition. I love goals, I love growth, I love learning, I love succeeding. I would definitely define myself as a very ambitious person. I want to be a strong female leader in my community and workplace, I want to connect with and help others, I want to change the world.
But ambition is super sneaky. What starts out as a drive to be the best we can be somehow transforms into being the best at all costs, about beating others, about winning, about succeeding for our own image and own status. We start to believe our ideas are the best ideas all the time, we start to find ourselves asking less questions and seeking less learning opportunities from others, we find ourselves pulling away from our teams and thinking we have it all and can do it all.
I have found myself on the wrong side of ambition before. Unfortunately, it usually has been brought to my attention by someone else. A friend, supervisor, mentor, or even my spouse has come to me and pointed out that I missed an opportunity to be a team player, or to delegate, or to ask for help, and it resulted in some kind of failure. Because that’s the thing–when it becomes all about us, it is destined to fail.
I heard a podcast once where the speaker was a very ambitious, young female leader. She mentioned that she has changed her prayers from one of specific requests for earthly successes to a simple: “Use me, Oh God, no limits, no distractions.” I have made that prayer my own by asking God to use me for what He will, to do His will, and to remind myself not to be distracted by the gold stars here on Earth (that are usually less shiny than they seem anyways).
We are meant for big things, friends. We are meant to dream big dreams and work hard and be utterly ambitious. We have so much potential inside of our souls, we all have a fire inside waiting to be ignited. Do not diminish that. Just be careful that your big dreams and hard work align with God’s will for us and the forward movement of God’s mission. Can you imagine what our world could be if all of us were full of Kingdom-focused ambition? Striving to make our world brighter, kinder, more welcoming? Dreaming of looking more like Jesus? Working hard for others?
Let’s get to work.
* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters of James and Peter (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 94.
** Comment on James 3:14 in NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook . Zondervan. Kindle Edition.