Brothers | It’s Different | Envy
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. (James 3:14)
“I should be allowed to lead women’s ministry,” snapped Glenda. “I’ve been to Bible college and my 20 years of teaching 6th graders should qualify me to move up!” Her friends nodded sympathetically. “We think so too. That dimwit who’s trying to lead it now doesn’t know what she’s doing. We need more than her boring Bible studies and service projects. I’m not sure she even finished high school.” Glenda dabbed at a tear. “I’m way more spiritually mature than she is. I think God wants me as the leader and we just need to figure out how to make that happen. I hear she’s got quite a past. Might need to bring that up.”
If only bitter envy and selfish ambition were limited to the world’s playgrounds. Unfortunately, those bullies barge right into the church too. Unless we stay alert, we’re all susceptible to envy and selfishness, even about ministry and service. If Jesus’ own disciples argued about which one was the greatest, none of us is immune (Luke 22:24). The first step in overcoming envy and ambition is to admit it’s there. Confess wrong motivations to God. “Lord, I’m green with envy because they got recognized instead of me. That’s wrong and I ask you to change my heart. I pray for their success.” When we learn to counter bitter envy and selfish ambition with humility and confession, God helps us to change those motives into love and encouragement.
Final Thought: Wisdom is honest enough to recognize when its motivations are not pure and refuses to harbor them.
Prayer: Father, it’s painful to admit how many things I do just to be recognized and seen as important. Selfish ambition, not love, motivates many of my decisions. I confess that as sin and ask you to help me seek humility. In Jesus’ name, Amen.