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“Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others
better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only
to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.”
So where do we begin with selfish ambition?
There is a story in the book of Numbers about a guy named Korah. He is one of the Levites during the time of Moses who is a good example of selfish ambition.
The people of Israel had just come out of a life of slavery in Egypt and were on their way to the Promised Land. The tabernacle was kind of like portable church and Korah and his family had the special job of moving it. When it was time to move to a new place they had the job of taking down the tabernacle and carrying all the parts and pieces to the new place and setting it up. It was a special job and only members of that particular family line were even allowed to do. In those days there were jobs that the Levites could do and there were other jobs that only priests could do. Korah has the job of moving the portable church but he thought he was just as capable as Aaron and the priests and could certainly burn insense as good as they could. Korah and some of his buddies got a notion that Aaron and his family had set them self up as the high and mighty ones. So Korah and 120 other leaders rise up against them in Numbers 16:3 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?”
Well the story goes on and Moses stands up for Aaron and lets the mutionious group know that its not Aaron they have turned against but God.
Numbers 16: 8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”
Things don't go so well for Korah and his rebellious bunch. Sometimes we can set our selves up against God by not being satisfied with the things he has given us to do an wishing we could have someone elses calling or annointing. Jealousy begins to grow and we look for ways we can take matters into our own hands. We refuse to heed wise council or Gods word or instruction to us and we insist on having things our way. A selfishly ambitious person will try to achieve at any cost the things they feel they should have that God denies.
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
I'm not saying that there is no place for ambtion or dreams but when our ambition becomes all about me, me, me and we have no concern for how it will effect others we find ourselves walking in a dangerous place. It is hard to feel we have been passed over, particularly when we have been doing the job with out much recognition. It is in those time we must resist the desire to be selfishly ambitious and ask God to help us trust his plan.
So on with the story of Korah and the gang. In verse 28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. 30 But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave,[c] then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.”
Well, if you read on you will find out that the ground did indeed open up and have Korah and the rest of the selfishly ambitous for lunch. It was pretty clear that they did not die of natural causes in the usual way.
It is important to remember that you are not your own; you were bought at a price. (1 Corinthians 6:20). Sometimes we can be doing a job serving the Lord and someone else around us can be promoted to a more important job and we can feel slighted by God. Its important to remember in those times that God lifts some up and bring others down. He shifts people around to accomplish his greater pourposes. We often are looking at things from our own perspective and while we might be quite capable of doing the job we might not be the one God is calling to do it. We need to be careful to not become like Korah, by learning to trust that Gods plans for us are good. Even the hardships we are facing are often grooming us for his future plans for our lives.
Help me to see where I am selfishy ambitous. Help me see where I am pushing for things that perhaps are not mine to have at this time or maybe ever. Help me Lord to be humble before you and to accept your plan. Help me to not be jealous when others get opportunites that I think I am better able to do. Help me to not only look to my own interests but to the interests of others. Help me to seek your Kingdom first and to trust that you will take care of the rest.