From The Heart

Publish date: 04/22/2001

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with 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 purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:1-11 NIV

If you want to make a success of your life, you must have visions and goals. It is good to have hopes, dreams, aspirations and a purpose, because without a vision, you have no direction, you go nowhere and you achieve nothing. If you aim for nothing—you are bound to hit it! However, your goals should not be met at the expense of others. Your ambitions should not result in the destruction of other people. God's way is to think of others, putting them before ourselves—to be a giver not a taker. The world's way is one of selfishness. If you are selfish—thinking only of yourself—you will end up hurting people and in the end you will destroy your own life. The Bible is clear—selfish ambition is a work of the flesh. It springs from your old unrenewed nature. You need to allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in your life to where your desires are only toward the things of God and your ambitions are directed toward the building of God's kingdom and the edification of God's people.

The Bible says that we should do nothing out of selfish ambition—thinking only of our own desires and interests—or out of pride and vain conceit. Pride is a destructive force. It causes us to put our needs and feelings above the needs of others. It causes us to focus only on ourselves rather than the plan of God and we end up missing God's wonderful plan for our lives. Selfishness makes you shortsighted. You don't see the big picture—you miss God's eternal purpose. Selfish ambition divides and separates us. If the devil can divide us, he can bring strife and every evil work into our midst. As believers, we should be one in spirit and purpose. We need to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself to take upon Himself the appearance of man and to die upon the cross. Because He did this, God has highly exalted Him, giving Him the Name above all names. Every knee will bow before that Name and every tongue confess that He is Lord!

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18 NIV

Selfish ambition goes hand-in-hand with envy. When we are envious and jealous of others and when our ambitions are selfish, we will become competitive toward others. We think that we have to bring others down so that we can be lifted up, but we are unwise, we are deceived and we are strangers to the truth. God's wisdom is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. If we want to be wise, we must humble ourselves and we must work for the good of others. Our ambition should be that we would be a blessing to everyone we meet. If we work to be a blessing, the Lord will be the One who promotes us and exalts us. When God promotes you, no man can bring you down. If you will put God and others ahead of yourself—God Himself will bless you and take care of you!