James 3:16-18 reminds us that “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere."
These verses were recently part of my devotional reading. They warn us about the danger of harboring jealousy and selfish ambition in our hearts. Such negative attitudes lead to chaos as we try to twist and turn situations and relationships into something that only benefits us while hurting those around us.
Theologically we know this is wrong, yet we struggle with it anyway. But even those who do not care about the theological implications of these verse, should consider the practical applications of this timeless wisdom. When we allow jealousy against others to keep us from praying for them, volunteering our time to help them, or giving to their financial needs, then the the whole of society suffers. We need each other! However, when we refuse to allow jealousy and self-ambition to control us, but instead we pursue the path of wisdom, then we find it much easier to live in peace with those around us. We can think more reasonably. We can make impartial decisions with a sincere heart. We take actions that benefit not only ourselves, but those around us. And that means everyone wins.
Though these verses apply to all Christians, I think those of us in leadership roles should especially take note of them. If we as leaders have not learned how to rid ourselves of jealousy and self-ambition, how can the church and her related ministries ever move forward? Even those who are not Christians might want to consider living these verses out, as they contain the path to a happier life. Each of us should take some time to reflect on our attitudes and motivations to make sure we are living a life full of wisdom.