“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Phil. 2:3-4
A little digging into the original word translated into “selfish ambition” along with looking at different translations reveals the words “strife” and “rivalry” are also used instead of “selfish ambition”. The word “ambition” per a google search shows the definition, “a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.” Per these scriptures, the Lord is telling us our ambition should not be self-centered and prideful. When do strife and rivalry come? When we’re consumed with ourselves and getting our way and getting what we want and serving ourselves.
Shouldn’t we have ambition in life? YES! But NOT selfish ambition. Not self-serving ambition. Not ambition that is consumed with self. Not ambition that can’t see past one’s own greedy and self-centered desires.
Yet isn’t one of our modern day culture’s worldly ways to strive really hard to please ourselves? To get what we want to satisfy ourselves? To achieve our own dreams regardless of the cost to others? To climb the corporate ladder as quickly and as best we can for our own sake? To make ourselves our primary interest? To do anything we can for personal gain even when we have to trample over others at worst and to ignore others at best for that gain? Even in the “good things” we do, even when we truly believe God has called us to them, is it not the case we sometimes have impure ungodly motives in our hearts whereby deep in our hearts we’re really doing something to satisfy ourselves, to earn praise, to feel good, etc., rather than doing what we’re doing for Christ and others above all else?
Following the Lord Jesus Christ is NOT about self-gratification. It’s not about having ambition to please self. It’s about yielding our lives entirely to Christ as Lord and about loving and serving Him and others in His name for the Lord’s forever glory!
Let’s watch our motives, friend, with the ambition we have. May our ambition be to love and worship and serve and obey God forever! Does this mean we’ll never experience fulfillment and satisfaction? That we’ll never enjoy ourselves? That we’ll never be content and have joy? That we can’t have any personal dreams? NO! But it does mean our orientation, our goal, our chief desire, our ambition, needs to be first and foremost to please Jesus and to love others in His name. The greatest joy we will ever experience anyway isn’t in self-gain. It’s in a forever relationship with Christ who will reign forevermore!