Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Danger with Ambition

The Letter of St. James shows James to be a something of straight talker. I think we should all take out our bibles and read his letter every now and then. And I think we’d get great fruit from it, and it will certainly challenge us all and the way we live our lives. James speak about the danger of naked ambition. “You want something and you haven’t got it”, he says, “so you are prepared to kill.” “You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy”, he says, “so you fight to get your way by force.”

And success, in its many forms, is a god that some people are willing to sacrifice too much, even everything, for. Some things are worth fighting for, worth setting our hearts on. Some things are worth committing your life to, some things are even worth dying for - not all ambitions are bad. But when the goals we set for ourselves mean that we have to go against what is right or lawful, or mean that we have to deprive another of what is rightfully his, then we have to ask ourselves: is it worth it.

No, ambition is not bad in itself, but a driving ambition is of little use if you’re on the wrong road. The devil was ambitious, more ambitious than any other creature. His pride and ambition drove him to challenge God for the throne of heaven, but at what a price. To serve in the highest echelons of the heavenly courts was not enough, he wanted to rule it. He wouldn’t serve in heights of heaven so his ambition brought him to reign in the depths of hell.

Don’t get me wrong, success is something good. We should try our best to succeed at anything we turn our hands to. God wants us to do our best, he wants us to be the best we can be. But success at all costs, getting our own way regardless of who we have to step over or crush to get it, is a dangerous game to play and certainly that does not have the Lord’s blessing upon it. And so we might find the price of our ambition to be well beyond what we were willing to pay.

As the Lord himself has told us: "What does it profit a man to win the whole world, but to thereby lose his own soul."

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