|Jealousy is a pretty though thing to swallow, isn't it?|
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 from above,
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Why did James use "bitter jealousy" and "selfish ambition" as two more evidences that wisdom might not exist in a life?
Noah Webster said, "Jealousy is awakened by whatever may exalt others, or give them pleasures and advantages which we desire for ourselves. Jealousy is nearly allied to envy, for jealousy, before a good is lost by ourselves, is converted into envy, after it is obtained by others." James links jealousy with bitterness. We cannot be jealous of someone and not become bitter toward that person.
Ambition is not a sin, is it? My friend Noah defines ambition as, "An eager, and sometimes an inordinate, desire for preferment, honor, superiority, power, or the attainment of something...to seek after ambitiously or eagerly; to covet." It can be a very devastating sin!
Yesterday a blogger friend said, "These are hard words." And they seem to be getting harder as we progress through the book of James. Although salvation is a free gift, fleshing out the Christian life is hard work.
In Philippians 2:12 we are told, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." But praise God, verse 13 says, "for it is God who works in you, to will and to work for His good pleasure." Aren't you so very thankful that God doesn't just save us and then leave us to do it on our own? We would utterly fail, opening ourselves to succumb to the very real temptation to have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in our lives, giving in to the earthly, unspiritual and demonic sins that block any attempts to be wise in God's eyes.
Speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." And let's never forget that familiar passage in 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
The temptation to jealousy and selfish ambition is very real, but we can be "more than conquerors through Him who loves us." (Romans 8:37)
Oh, God, give me grace in the midst of these hard words,