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Friday, March 16, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 24 ~ Selfish Ambition vs. Humble Love

Day 24 ~ Selfish Ambition vs. Humble Love

James 3:16-17 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.

I once had a conversation with someone who worked in Washington D.C. She said it was a very depressing place to work. Young adults looking to change the nation for the better would naively come to Washington ready to act on their ideals. She said within a year they will have learned that if you want someone to scratch your back you have to scratch someone theirs, even if that meant compromising your ideals. It almost always means compromising your ideals. Ideals become selfish ambitions and suddenly the only thing that matters is winning, no matter who you hurt in the process. It becomes a game of kill or be killed.

Such wisdom does not come from heaven. Life in the kingdom of God is not one of will power and selfish ambition. Here the mentality is not kill or be killed, but sacrificially die for the sake of loving your neighbor! After all, that is what our Lord and God has done for us! Christ did not become our Lord by exerting His power and authority over us. But, Jesus, "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." Christ's glory is found, not in His exertion of power (which is rightfully His) over His creatures, but in dying in the place of sinners.

With the sacrificial Lamb serving as our Lord, life in the kingdom is radically different from that of the world. Wisdom here does not say that we should win at all costs. Wisdom here says that we should love at all costs. Pure, heavenly wisdom grants us lives that are "peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." Such lives may not get a bill passed in Washington, but they certainly glorify our Father in heaven and bless those around us. Just ask Jesus!

Confession: God of all grace, forgive me for my pride and selfish ambition. I have not reflected the humility of your Son in the way I treat my neighbors, rather, I have used them for selfish gain. Teach me to lead a life of humility and service. I pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who humbly died in my place. AMEN.

Challenge: Next time you must stand in line, let two people cut in front of you.

Pastor Bob

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