I love the book of James. I’ve written here before that I respect straight-shooters. James and I would’ve been friends. I probably would have hated to love him. But, I’d rather you not mince words with me. Just tell me, flat-out, how it is.
Below is one of my favorite passages in James.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. – James 3:14-16
Kind of a weird favorite, eh? It certainly isn’t full of poofy clouds, rainbows and feel good warm fuzzies. Perhaps that’s what I like about it. Right to the point. No sugar coating found.
I decided to dissect it a little tonight. It seems fairly obvious what James is talking about here, and in its context, to whom he is speaking. But there is so much in here for all of us. And it personally convicts me…a lot.
But if you have bitter jealousy…
The adjective pikros (“bitter”) describes a harsh stance of demanding to be recognized as wise, instead of being willing to learn. [Bible Gateway Commentary]
Dangitalltoheck! That’s me. Sometimes…I just wanta skip the elbow grease-dig in-discovery-learning process and stand in the spotlight posed as a smarty-godly-pants just cuz I may know a little something about a big something that requires, and deserves, much more reverence and respect. And why do I want that? Cuz I see others, who’ve been willing to learn, in the spotlight and I want that too.
All that and it’s only the 5th word in into that passage!
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts…
The second noun, eritheia (“selfish ambition”), exposes the sinful desire for personal glory–wanting the status of a teacher so that others will have to learn from me. [Bible Gateway Commentary]
Ouch. But admit it…we all want personal glory. I know I do. Now, this verse is speaking to teachers in the church. And I have seen much of this in todays church. But I see just as much of it in every day life of others as well. Someone with a platform suddenly becomes the poster christian who knows everything and is adored by thousands. And much of that turns in to personal glorification. We know it’s true.
Self-glorification: a feeling or expression of one’s own superiority.
This is dangerous ground to be standing on. And there is no room for it in the church. But lets be honest…it’s all over the church, isn’t it?
How our prideful hearts must grieve God.
Just reading into these verses deeper tonight I have to say sorry to the Lord for ridiculously trying to take His place. For arrogantly attempting to steal His glory. All because of my own insecurities…my own pride and selfishness.
James…you kicked my booty tonight. Thank you. Lord, you revealed many uglies in my heart. It isn’t fun and I kinda wanta delete this post. But, I won’t. Ima suck it up and own it.
Call me out friends. And if you permit me, I will lovingly call you out if I see this selfish-ambition in you. We are a community. A family.
It’s what family does.
Anything else you can unpack from this passage?