Contentment vs. Ambition
Paul says in Philippians 4:11 – “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
How do you reconcile contentment with ambition? This question has haunted me so many times especially the last few months …
*Contentment … satisfaction. Ease of mind.
...A state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be. I Timothy 6:6-8
...It is opposed to envy.
...It arises from the inward disposition, and is the offspring of humility.
...Content … satisfied with things as they are.
...willing to accept circumstances
Proverbs 19:23 … “The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”
Philippians 4:11-13 … “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things thru Him who give me strength.”
I Timothy 6:6-8 … “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be
content with that.”
Hebrews 13:5 … “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.””
*Ambition … an earnest desire for achievement, distinction, power, honor, fame, wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
Romans 15:20 … “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”
Galatians 5:19-21 … “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Philippians 1:17 … “The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.”
Philippians 2:3 … “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
I Thessalonians 4:11-12 … “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the
respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
James 3:14-16 … “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
**Jesus said in Matthew 6 … “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (v. 21) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (v. 24) “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (v. 33) “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (v. 34)
So, after reading all this – how do I reconcile contentment with ambition?
I notice that when the Bible speaks against ambition – it says “selfish ambition”.
“O God! Create in me a clean heart!” I pray that my heart will be pure, my motives be holy, and my ambitions in right line with God’s will and plan for my life.
I noticed something else – in Matthew 6:24 the word “money” is capitalized in the Bible. Why are words capitalized?
…(Rules of grammar) … first word of every sentence, the word “I”, first and last and important words in a title, proper nouns. So, “money” in this verse is capitalized – almost like a living and
breathing “thing”. I pray that “money” will NOT be capitalized in my heart, nor in my life. I know that we all need money in this world, to live our lives.
That is the system of our being. But to live with the heart that I need money to live, not that I live to have money!
Also, noticed that the references to contentment almost always dealt with the things of this life – food, money, clothes, etc…
Praying that God will open my eyes to my blessings today.
When the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years – God gave them enough for each day. What do I need
today??? God has asked me this question many times – with the assurance that whatever I NEEDED He was ready to provide. It’s just that when faced with that question – and honestly looking at my life, very few times have I been able to say that I needed anything! However, every time I did need something – God has always provided!
One of the hardest lessons in this journey of faith has been learning the difference between what I need and what I want. I heard someone say once that if we could live without something for 3 days, then it was something we wanted, not something we needed. It’s not easy to accept that difference. Amazing what I can live without, tho.
Contentment is a state of mind and heart and spirit. Being content with what we have – knowing that God Himself has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
What are my ambitions? Are they Godly? Are they selfish?
Am I serving God or serving Money?
God knows the heart. The hard part is getting myself to look honestly within. God,
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