The Problem with Selfish Ambition

It was first semester of grade 11 and my English teacher had just assigned a “creative” project for the class.

We were to write a short story, speech and/ or poem on a selected topic and present it to the class.

Intimidated by the possibility of presenting in front of my classmates, I decided to write a poem and make a short video out of it.

Little did I know, that assignment would spark in me a new desire to write. Coincidentally, this occurred around the same period of my conversion into the Christian faith.

As such,  I was inspired to use my awakened desire for writing to proclaim the Gospel by any means possible.

A year had passed and I was prepared to publicly share a poem video that I had been diligently working on.

I specifically recall praying prior to releasing it…

Pleading with God to use it to bless at least one soul and to discipline me should anything I do be out of His will.

Whether or not I would be praised/ slandered from it was not of my concern.

Facebook likes, comments, shares, views <— none of these were of a matter.

My only concern  was the one soul and making sure I was pleasing God.

Where am I going with this?

Six years later, as I write this blog post, I can not honestly say I have the same level of humility in my approach.

I mean my writing and presentation may have improved, because the quality of that poem was pretty trash tbh.


But the genuineness and motivation behind sharing it has honestly been skewed.

Had I received half of the feedback/ testimonies I do now with my blogs back then,  I would’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude.


After a quick “Thank you so much!” I quickly rush back to the “Stats” section on WordPress so see how well my blogs are performing.

My motive was slowly becoming more and more selfish

Now I understand the need to grow in every aspect of life, however the motive behind these actions should always be reflected.

The purpose of this post is to discuss something that has quietly crept in the hearts of many individuals (including mine) and lead us astray.


 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice

James 3:14-16

What is “Jealousy” & “Selfish Ambition”?

I know many of you don’t need an English lesson on what these words mean, but for sake of clarity.

Jealousy:“Feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages

Selfish Ambition:devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’sown interests, benefits, welfare, etc”

In other words, living life for yourself and bitterly envying others who have what you want.

The Bible describes this type of lifestyle to be earthly, unspiritual and demonic (resembling evil/ demonic spirits).

If that wasn’t harsh enough, James 3:16 continues on to say that disorder and EVERY vile (wicked) practice is birthed out of selfish ambition and jealousy.

Despite the sting in his words, these statements couldn’t be more true. Consider these examples:

1. Cain murders Abel out of jealousy of his sacrifice: Genesis 4:1-12; Hebrews 11:4

2. King Saul lost his kingship due to selfish ambition: 1 Samuel 15

 3. King Saul’s jealousy lead him to hate David (who was appointed by God to be  the next King of Israel): 1 Samuel 18:6-16

4. Joseph was sold by his brothers due to jealousy: Genesis 37

Murder, selling blood relatives to slavery and the destruction of a king.

^ All birthed from jealousy and/ or selfish ambition.

“What about me?”

Ok, so you’re probably looking at these 4 examples and saying,

“Phil, you must be crazy to think I would literally murder someone out of selfish ambition”


So let’s look at this from today’s perspective.

Let’s use the typical school –> career  example.

We go to school, get an education, get a job and make a living.

There’s nothing wrong with this assuming none of these are approached from a selfish point of view.

However, if our motivation is simply to go to school to find happiness within ourselves, pursue our passions to be happy, desire to make lots of money simply to live lavish and die peacefully, there’s an issue here.

Ironically, that statement ^^ is what’s often referred to as the American Dream

Scripture has this to say:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others

Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

So what’s the point I’m trying to get across?

Live for something greater than yourself, or to be more direct live life to serve God & people.

“So what you trynna say PHIL? HOW WE SUPPOSED TO EAT!”

Trust me,

I hear you, not only because I love food,

but because scriptures like Matthew 6:25-34 remind us that God is aware of the needs of His followers and will do well to supply them to you.

God’s Approach

How then should we approach life?

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

James 3:13 ESV

If we compare this passage to James 3:15 we would notice a direct contrast.

  • Living in jealousy & self-ambition = Unwise/ unGodly
  • Living through meekness of wisdom = Wise

Assuming none of us wants to be fools..


let’s get a better understanding of this, so that we may live in wise/ Godly manner.

First of all, being meek simply means being submissive to something or someone; not being impressed with ones self-importance.

Therefore as Christians, being meek implies forgetting about ourselves and fully submitting our will to God, trusting that He will supply our needs as we do so.

As we go through all aspects of life, we should ask the question,

“How can I use” BLANK ” to glorify God and serve others?”

Whether it be school, business, relationships and anything else we do in life.

Becoming rich should be an outcome, not a desire.

If God wills us to be millionaires and famous throughout the world.

All glory to God.

If God wills for us to remain as we are.

All glory to God.

Our wealth is found in Him and we act wisely once we submit to His will.

Choose wisdom and deny yourself.


Soli Deo Gloria


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