Read: James 3:13-18
Reflect: Have you been counting your pennies lately and found they don’t go very far? It is a pretty scary world out there and there are lot of frightening things happening. It is certainly a difficult time to be what James termed as “wise and understanding”, especially when events are directly affecting your quality of life. It is easy to “harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts” when you see others having what seems to be an easy go of life. This Bible passage essentially asks: “Where do you want to go in your heart during this time? What is your ambition?”.
What has been transpiring the past six months in your life? Have you been pre-occupied with your own desires, your own worries, your own standard of life? Or have you been focused on what God desires? Have you had the humility to pray to God: “Whatever your will is, that is what I want”? Saint Augustine wrote, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”.
Biblical humility centers on low self-preoccupation. A humble person does not spend a great deal of time wrapped up in themselves. It was pride, not humility, that caused Satan and his followers to strike out against God, thinking that they knew better than God. Instead of humbly serving his Creator, the devil in his arrogance sought to be above the Almighty. He thought he knew better than God. This pattern of thought certainly did not work out well for the devil.
True humility comes when we realize that we must be dependent on God for everything, including what we think, what we say, and what we do. It is not easy to yield such control over to God. Sadly, without godly humility, our lives are characterized by “disorder and every evil practice”, just like the devil (and just like a lot of people around us). It is no fun to be surrounded by a group of people who are only thinking of themselves, so don’t think God enjoys spending time with a believer who only drones on and on about himself/herself. That’s why God has given us the key to not live a life consumed by self.
Godly ambition to live like this is not a New Year’s resolution, but the secret is to choose to yield our footsteps, our behaviors, to the Holy Spirt today….right this minute. Then and only then can we avoid the trap of self-focus. According to James, the wise person will demonstrate a life that is not self-occupied, and it is filled with gentleness, mercy, fairness, and behavior free of hypocrisy. I would certainly like to be surrounded in a room by people who are behaving that way. Is this how you have been choosing to live?
Apply: Pray, and ask God every day to fill you and control you with His Holy Spirit. Trust in Him for your thoughts, words, and actions. Then and only then will you be able to live a humble life that is pleasing to God. This should be our real life’s ambition.