Have you ever wondered whether or not ambition is a sin? As someone who is very passionate about following their dreams, setting huge goals, improving everyday, and working hard, I’ve often times been guilty of letting ambition get the best of me. And if you’re anything like me, you know the feeling of trying to balance passion, dreams, and discipline with ambition. It’s not easy! But is ambition really bad? What does the Bible say about ambition? Does God want us to be ambitious? Or should we fight against ambition? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, today we’re going to dive into scripture and take a look at what the Bible says about ambition.
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WHAT IS AMBITION?
Before we open scripture to see what the Bible says about ambition, let’s try to understand what ambition really is. It’s easy to say “No, I’m not an ambitious person” when you don’t really know what ambition is or you have the wrong concept of what it means to be an ambitious person. But, as you become aware with what ambition is and the qualities of an ambitious person, you’ll be able to say with certainty whether you’re an ambitious person or not! And hey, no one is judging you here.
Before creating this post I personally thought that I wasn’t an ambitious person, but as I’ve been studying this topic more profoundly, I can confirm that I am ambitious.
By definition, ambition is a strong desire to achieve, gain, or be something.
Some synonyms of ambition include:
IS AMBITION BAD?
If you’re someone who is all about personal growth, improving yourself, setting huge goals, making plans, finding your purpose, and desiring for more, you’re considered an ambitious person. Like I said before, I am completely guilty as charged! I even have an entire blog dedicated to personal growth, finding your purpose, etc!
But, the question is….is ambition bad?
I’d like to answer this question with a piece of scripture.
Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. (NKJV)
What does this verse tell us?
- We must do everything in life heartily – genuinely, enthusiastically, and eagerly. This means, we should always give our best. God doesn’t want us to be mediocre in spiritual or earthly matters. We were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10).
- Everything that we do has to be done for God with God in mind, not ourselves or other people. Ambition becomes a problem when you’re guided by selfishness, competition, or arrogance. Are you doing things to boost your ego and compete with others? Or are you doing things to bring glory to God?
So to answer the question according to what scripture says, having purpose, goals, plans, discipline, and aspiration is necessary to walk in good works. A life with no purpose, motivation, or mission in life doesn’t bring glory to God.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (NKJV)
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (NKJV)
A child of God must bring glory to God in everything (not just in church).
SELFISH AMBITION vs GODLY AMBITION
- Doing things to boost/feed your ego.
- Trying to better than everyone else.
- Doing things to boast and show off to others.
- Becoming obsessed with your goals and putting them above God.
- Disregarding God, family, loved ones, and friends because of your ambition.
- Thinking about yourself only in everything you do.
- Running away from God’s plans just to fulfill your dreams.
- Ruining relationships, sabotaging your well-being, and destroying your health just to accomplish your goals/dreams.
- Sinning against God to fulfill your goals.
- Doing things to bring glory to God.
- Becoming a better version of yourself to align yourself to God’s word.
- Serving God with purpose, motivation, and discipline.
- Putting God first and then your goals, plans, and desires.
- Letting God be the one to guide and lead you in everything you do.
- Following God’s plan for your life with passion and motivation.
- Using your gifts and talents to serve others.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT AMBITION?
1) Don’t do anything through selfish ambition.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (NKJV)
2) Selfish ambition is a work of the flesh.
Galatians 5:19-20 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies. (NKJV)
3) It’s impossible to serve both God and your selfish ambitions.
mammon = riches
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (NKJV)
4) Selfish ambition does not come from God but from the world.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (NKJV)
5) Is selfish ambition really worth losing yourself for?
Luke 9:25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (NKJV)
6) Selfish ambition can lead to destruction and perdition.
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (NKJV)
7) Where selfish ambition exists, there is also disorder.
James 3:15-16 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. (ESV)
8) Selfish ambition is a desire of the flesh and of the mind.
Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (NKJV)
9) Ambition chokes the word and makes it unfruitful in your life.
Mark 4:18-19 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (NKJV)
EXAMPLE OF SELFISH AMBITION IN THE BIBLE
Tower of Babel
Genesis 11:4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (NKJV)
Why was the building of the Tower of Babel interrupted and so wrong in God’s eyes?
Because the men wanted to build this tower for the wrong reasons. They were motivated by their selfish ambition to build a tower that would:
- Make them powerful on their own and not have to depend on God.
- Help them make a name for themselves.
- Give them glory.
- Help them hide and escape from God’s plan, will, and purpose.
EXAMPLE OF GODLY AMBITION IN THE BIBLE
Paul preaching the gospel
Romans 15: 20 And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation. (ESV)
How did ambition manifest itself in Paul’s life and with what purpose?
Paul preached the gospel with ambition (intention, motivation, or purpose). He allowed God to use his life to serve others and bring glory to the gospel by preaching the gospel with godly ambition.
HOW TO DEAL WITH AMBITION?
1. Seek God first.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (NKJV)
2. Remain humble.
Luke 14: 11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (NKJV)
3. Be selfless.
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (NKJV)
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PRAYER AGAINST AMBITION
Heavenly Father, I come before you with all of my dreams, goals, and plans. I ask that you examine my heart and reveal any selfish ambition that may be in my life. Help me see the intention and motivation behind everything I do – am I trying to give you glory or am I trying to boost my ego and compete with others? I pray that you help me have your vision, your heart, and your mindset in everything I do. That I bring glory to your name with my works. And that I remove any selfish intentions from my heart. May you be the center of everything I do. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
I hope you enjoyed this post on ambition and learned a little bit more of what the Bible says about ambition! May God help us seek him with ambition and help us fulfill his purpose/plan for our lives without letting selfish ambition get the best of us!
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Sending you blessings & love,