What is your motivation? What is your drive? Is it inward focused? Is it all about you?
Today’s reading starts with a warning, with wisdom, and with instruction about worldliness…
1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
–from James 4
If we are allowing our passions and our ambitions to drive us in a self-centered way, it is setting up conflicts and quarrels that shouldn’t be necessary. If we aren’t being motivated by the things and ways of God then we end up acting out and getting ourselves into trouble doing things that aren’t right. If we are comparing ourselves to others, what they get, what they have, … we are playing with our minds and setting ourselves up by opening a foothold that can hold us back or cause us to act out in ways that are detrimental to us and to those we love and to others we may not even know.
Do you need something? Do you have a desire and are not sure how to fulfill it? Do you know where to turn? Do you know who to ask?
Turn to God! Ask Him for what you have need of! Give into His hands what you feel and how you feel, what you desire and seek! Allow Him to direct your path! Allow Him to open the right doors at the right times so that you don’t trip yourself up! Ask God into your heart! Ask Him to forgive you and to help lead and guide you as you move forward! Did you read what it says above? “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” So check your heart! Check your intentions! Check your motivation! Do you need wisdom? Ask for He gives it generously and without finding fault! When we make our lives about selfless things rather than selfish things, our purpose and our ambitions align better with God and He is able to take that passion and that ambition and use it and multiply it for His glory! So submit your asks, your needs, your desires to God! And if the devil tempts you, resist Him and He will flee! Draw near to God and He will draw near to you! Make Him a priority to you! Make Him a key and primary role in your life! If you have a relationship with God, then build on that. If you don’t have a relationship with God, call on Him, ask Him into your heart, and start the most incredible journey you could ever ask for or imagine!
I had an interesting experience back when I was pursuing a job back at my old company. It was a strange experience to me and the feedback from the hiring manager made it clear not only that I wouldn’t be a fit, but also that if that is how they operate, I didn’t want the job. What I discovered what in my responses, I was saying how I would connect with people and that we would work together to accomplish our goal. What they didn’t like was that I didn’t say I got connected with them and then got them to do the work so that we could accomplish the goal. It seemed to me that their mode of operation was the use others to get the job done. I even asked a clarifying question … “So if I had of said I got the other person to do the work to and accomplish the goal that would have been better?” and the answer was yes. Hmmm. But that’s not how I role. I don’t try to use people, I build relationships with them because it’s not all about that one project or task, it’s about a lasting relationship that can be made and built upon.
Today’s devotional jumps right into this subject too when it starts with the following…
Submitting Selfish Ambition to God
Today’s reflection is from the Theology of Work Project.
In the workplace, one temptation is to use others as stepping stones to our own success. When we steal the credit for a subordinate’s or co-worker’s work, when we withhold information from a rival for promotion, when we shift the blame to someone not present to defend themselves, when we take advantage of someone in a difficult situation, we are guilty of selfish ambition. The book of James is right that this is a chief source of quarrels.
Ironically, selfish ambition may impede success rather than promote it. The higher your position in an organization, the more you depend on others for success. It can be as simple as delegating work to subordinates, or as complex as coordinating an international project team. But if you have a reputation for stepping on other people to get ahead, how can you expect others to trust and follow your leadership?
The book of James says an underlying cause of selfish ambition is failure to depend on God. We fail to depend on God when we don’t ask him for what we need. Interestingly, the reason we don’t depend on God is because we want to serve our own ambitions rather than serving others. We are tempted by the wealth and pleasure we believe we can find in the world without God.
The remedy lies in submitting to God. We submit to God whenever we put our ambition in the service of others ahead of ourselves. Do you want to rise to a position of authority and excellence? Good, begin by helping other workers increase their authority and excellence. Does success motivate you? Good, invest in the success of those around you.
We also submit to God when we go to Him first for our needs. Are you ambitious because you fear what others think of you? Ask God to be your source of security. Are you competitive because you fear losing your job? Try asking God to provide for all your needs.
Watch this short clip “Why Does Our Faith Influence Our Choices on Sunday, but Not on Monday?”
Today’s reading continues too quoting Jesus’ words …
31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.–from Matthew 6