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. (James 3:13-16 NIV)
James paints a vivid picture of a contrast for me this morning. The contrast is of the wisdom of Godly living verses living by what comes naturally, or earthly living. Godly living leads to humility. James doesn’t elaborate on what humility looks like in daily life, but he does contrast it with details of what earthly living looks like in daily life.
If I live my life apart from God’s will and purpose for me, apart from His Word which teaches me, and apart from His Spirit which convicts, corrects, and guides me, then I am left to do what comes naturally. What is that? James says what comes naturally is selfish ambition and bitter envy. I want what I want. Regardless of how my desires impact the lives of others, I still want what I want. In relation to others, if they have what I want then envy can easily lead to “bitter envy.” What a contrast this is compared to the humility God calls us to exhibit in daily life. Paul wrote these words to the folks in Philippi.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:3-5 NIV)
So, I have a choice to make today as I head out the door. Will I submit to God’s will and purpose for my life or will I do what comes naturally as I go about my day? The choice I make will determine how I interact with those around throughout the day.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will empower me to walk in humility today so that I might value those You lead into my life even more than I value my own life.