13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 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. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
I have been thinking a lot lately about selfish ambition. I am at that transitional point in my life where I finished with school a couple of years ago, but yet still not quite sure where to take my life next. I'm sure anyone in their early-mid 20's can relate to this on some level. There are so many things I would like to do in my professional life, personal life, spiritual life-but I am oftentimes left feeling like I don't know how to begin working at any of these ambitions. In the past I have stressed myself out about things thinking that in order to succeed at any of these passions that I needed to know exactly what and how to do everything, and that would just end up stressing me out because I would put too much pressure on myself. As I begin sharing this with my friends and family, and delving more into the word, God hit me over the head with the words that I needed.
See, I struggle with reading my Bible. I always have. It can be overwhelming when you aren't sure what passages to read or how to understand the words once you do read it. But over the course of this summer, I have been trying my hardest to make time to read the Bible AND a new thing for me is that I have been writing in my Bible! I have been choosing a book (it seems as though this whole summer was devoted to reading James) and underlining and writing my thoughts in the margins. It has made SUCH a change in the way I've been reading. It forced me to really look for passages that I could relate to and in turn allowed God to show me so many things.
The above passage just hit me the other day when thinking about all that I want to accomplish in life but don't know how to begin: I need to begin with God. If I don't have my heart right with him, then everything I hope to accomplish will just end in disorder. I need to make His ambitions MY ambitions. I was still mulling over how to do that when I continued reading and stumbled upon some more words from James:
James 4:7-8, 13-17
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Woah! That hit me right between the eyes. Why do I care about making all of these grand plans? If I am close to God HE will take care of making plans that are so much greater than I could have imagined for myself! It might not be on my timeline, but that is why I need to trust Him.
Now, I want to make sure you know that I'm not saying it is bad to have ambitions- I think God wants us to have a goal and work hard towards it. He gave us all unique passions and talents and if we are just sitting back waiting for Him while we do nothing then our talents won't be sharpened and ready. What I AM saying is that we shouldn't stress out if our lives aren't moving along as quickly as we think they ought to. God is working on a path for us, but we can't find the path if we're not spending time with Him.
I still don't have all the answers (I think that is quite obvious :) ), but I am working towards it and I will let you know how that turns out :)