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What Does The Bible Say About Ambition?

be successful, famous, rich, or powerful. Many who live by the world’s standards struggle to be above others, regardless of the means of achieving it.

But we cannot easily dismiss ambition as entirely sinful. God encourages ambition. In Deuteronomy 28:13, He tells the Israelites that they will be the head and not the tail. He promised prosperity and success for those who obey His word in Joshua 1:8, and He promised that Abraham’s name will be great in Genesis 12:2.

But the Bible does dissuade someone from the pursuit of selfish ambition, as mentioned by Paul in Philippians 2:3 (KJV):

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

You can also find similar verses in James 3:14 and James 3:16.

An ambition becomes sinful when done for one’s glory and sought after in compromising ways. It can be a very deceptive idol and corrupt one’s soul. Such selfish desire can blind one from the truth and can make any Christian stray from God’s path of righteousness. Many have fallen into this temptation, and it never ends well; like for many characters in the Bible such as Ahab and Jezebel, Saul, Solomon, and most kings after David, Herod, and, above all, satan.

In fact, this sin has been an influence rooted in satan himself. 

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! [13] For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: [14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [15] Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

(Isaiah 14:12-15 KJV)

Then he tempted Adam to have the same ambition of becoming like God, which now leads us to our present suffering. Selfish ambition never has a happy ending—only misery and emptiness.

That’s why Paul teaches us to be humble and consider others better than ourselves. And in everything we do, we should do it all for the glory of God.

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

(1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV)

We have to realize that if we exalt ourselves, God will humble us. But if we humble ourselves, God will exalt us. Only in a God-dependent and God-honoring life can we find true success and satisfaction. It would be best if we make it our ambition to make Jesus famous and His Gospel successful in propagation.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

(Matthew 6:33 KJV)

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