Thursday, March 15, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 23 ~ Selfish Ambition

Day 23 ~ Selfish Ambition
James 3:14-15  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
When Jesus walked among us He did so fixated on the glory that was set before Him (Phil. 2:5-11).  He resolutely set His course towards the cross, knowing that it was the place where He would shamefully suffer the wrath of God in the place of sinners so that sinners would receive His righteousness.  Jesus came humbly and selflessly.  He did not seek glory or fame.  He sought sinners, all to the glory of God.  God's glory, saved sinners, this is what mattered to Jesus.  That is why He came from heaven.

To lose everything and suffer great loss for the sake of others seems foolish to us.  Especially if the others are our enemies.  Yet, "when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son" (Romans 5:10).  God's glorious Son set aside His glory and chose shame and a cross to save His enemies.  That is the wisdom from above.  That is love.

The world does not seek to glorify God or love the enemy.  Rather, we have an entirely different motivation for living in our world:  selfish ambition.  As rock icons Queen once sang, "I want it all!  And I want it now!"  We want to be on top of everyone else.  If in the process of realizing our selfish goals someone else hinders our efforts, we grow angry, even bitter.  Hatred wells up inside of us and we seek to harm the other person, just as they have harmed us.

Such bitterness and selfishness is wicked, James says.  It is earthly, that is, concerned only with this world and having no regard for eternity.  It is unspiritual, that is, not produced by the Holy Spirit, but, our own selfish hearts (Matt. 15:19).  It is of the devil, that is, carried out with no concern for God, much to the devil's delight.  Add it all up and this equals foolishness.

The wisdom of the world entreats us to live for today, care only for yourself, get the biggest toys, have the most money, etc.   It is utterly selfish.  It is utterly foolish.  Christ is our wisdom.  Christ suffers for the sake of His enemies.  He loves them so that they might be saved.  True wisdom is found in Jesus who loves at all costs.  Jesus who is found dying on a cross in a way that is utterly foolish to this earthly, unspiritual, devilish world.

Confess:  Father of all mercy and grace, hear my pleas for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I have lived in rebellion and sin.  At one time, I was your enemy.  But, through the blood of Christ, we have been reconciled so I can, by your grace, call you Father!  Teach me, oh Father, to so love my enemies.  I pray for those who persecute me and anger me.  Help me to love them and remove all bitterness from my heart.  I ask this in Jesus' most precious name.  AMEN.

Challenge:  Every day for the next week pray for a person you don't like .  Ask the Lord to teach you how to love them and to forgive them if necessary.

Pastor Bob

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