Do We Ignore What the Bible Says About Selfish Ambition?

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

In Galatians 5:19–21, Paul covers a list of sinful activities that bar a person from the kingdom of God, but there’s one we often overlook. Let’s read it and see if we skim past it.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 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.

A few stand out and are often preached from the pulpits: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, witchcraft, hatred, drunkenness, and orgies.

But what about selfish ambition?

Paul didn’t emphasize the other activities in bold all-caps with “selfish ambition” a minor side note. No, selfish ambition is listed with all the really bad stuff. Yet, self-promotion is all the rage now, even among Christians. We want followers, subscribers, likes, and shares. We work hard to elevate our brands and make ourselves known.

Is God padlocking the pearly gates of Heaven to us?

What Are Our Motives?

The answer lies in our motives. Are we seeking to glorify ourselves or God? My motives aren’t always pure. I sometimes inhale the dream of being a famous, influential writer into my soul, and it’s intoxicating. But I remind myself that fame is fleeting, and many famous writers don’t inherit the kingdom of God.

Not every piece I write directly glorifies God but every time I write I feel the glory of God. I write a lot about self-improvement and fantasy football and I’m pretty sure God doesn’t give a rip about fantasy football. But I’m using, exercising, and sharpening the gift He gave me in ways that don’t promote sin or dishonor Him. My heart soars as a father when my children love and use the gifts I give them. On the flipside, it’s a bit disheartening when they put my well-thought-out gift in the closet to collect dust.

Running on the Right Fuel

As I learn to sharpen the gift God gave me, my followers, subscribers, likes, and shares may grow. But that’s not my motivation. I’m fueled by feeling His glory and glorifying Him. It’s fantastic if my audience grows as a by-product. I’m happy for more people to read what I have to say about God and fantasy football.



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R. Dennis Brady

R. Dennis Brady

Husband, father, Toby’s friend, writer, fantasy football fanatic, beach lover, blessed child of God.