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Bible verses about Ambition
(From Forerunner Commentary)

2 Chronicles 26:16-21

What is God's reaction to presumptuous sin? There is no mercy! He immediately struck Uzziah with leprosy, and the man was cut off. It sounds like he was cut off from just about everything for the rest of his life. He pretty much lost his crown—lost everything. He certainly lost his health, all because he sinned presumptuously.

Ambition is not a trait that impresses God—certainly not presumptuous ambition. He is looking for a humble man who will stay where God has put him and do what God tells him to do. Uzziah was king over God's people Israel. Was that enough? No! To Uzziah, he wanted to be a priest as well.

It was his strength (verse 16), his pride, that drove him to do this presumptuous act. His heart was lifted up within him to make him think that he was worthy of more than what God had given him. He became discontent with his place. He was dissatisfied with what God had given him (his position as king); and he took to himself a position that was somebody else's.

God would never give him the authority to be a priest: He was a Jew, and the law says that only a son of Aaron could be a priest—a Levite. Uzziah knew that! But in spite of all the warnings, all of what God says, and in spite of what the priests themselves told him—he did it anyway.

Is it not interesting that he was struck with leprosy in his forehead? That should tell us something. What does leprosy stand for? What is it a symbol of? Defilement! It is a symbol of uncleanness—of being impure. Remember in the Pentateuch, all those rules about if somebody had a spot then they were to remain outside the camp? And they were to wash and do all various things. What they were looking for was leprosy. All the things that they had to do—all the washings, all the inspections, and everything else—were to certify whether the person was clean or unclean.

God put this uncleanness—this mark of defilement—right on Uzziah's forehead, where he could not hide it. What is right behind the forehead? The mind is the seat of intellect, as well as the seat of our character. The mind is where it is all being stored. That is where we think. God put this mark on this man's forehead to show that his character had been defiled—by presumptuousness, by this overweening pride that he was greater than what God had made him.

This is why presumptuousness is such a terrible, damnable sin—because it defiles character that has been built. It ruins it, to the point that God cannot work with it any more. He says that person shall be cut off from His people. There is no sacrifice for this kind of sin. That is how serious presumptuousness is.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Ecclesiastes 6:9

Ecclesiastes 6:9 is Solomon's version of the cliché, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” He is essentially saying, “It is better to have little and purposely enjoy it than to dream about much and never attain it.” A problem with dreams is that, all too often, they never become a reality. Thus, a sense of satisfaction and contentment remains unfulfilled. Solomon is not saying it is wrong to have a dream on which to spend our ambition, but that our ambition must be motivated for the glory of God and not the praise of men—including ourselves. If we think material achievements will automatically produce these qualities, we are wrong.

True satisfaction and contentment comes when we do the will of God from the heart for His glory. When that happens, we get to share in real satisfaction. In John 4:34, Jesus says, “My food [meaning that which energizes Him and fills His life with satisfaction] is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” David adds in Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” That is real satisfaction and contentment. These verses reinforce the truth that satisfaction and contentment in life is within a relationship with God.

True happiness and these qualities in life do not automatically result from “making a good living.” Rather, they are a blessed byproduct of making a good life with God as our Leader. If one devotes his life to doing God's will, satisfaction and contentment will be its fruit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Seven): Contentment


 

Isaiah 14:13-14

How people feel about ambition is plain in the way they say, "I'm a go-getter" in a tone of pride and self-satisfaction. Many people greatly admire this expression of self-will. However, people often frustrate themselves when they try to accomplish and acquire things through their own will. In seeking security and prestige, self-will frequently develops into conformity to a social status, a peer group, or an organization. In reality, it is slavery to sin.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 4): Self-Will


 

Ezekiel 28:12-15

Consider what he was. He was the pinnacle of what God can create by fiat. That is what is suggested in the wording of this passage - he was the "seal of perfection," the most perfect creation, full of wisdom and beauty. He was made with precious stones as part of his body. Music - beautiful music - was intrinsic to him. He had an exalted position as the "covering cherub." He walked where God ruled, amidst the fiery stones. He had it all. It should have been enough for him, but he began to think, "I'm still one step down from the top. I really don't have it all. I want to rise to the next level of management. I want to be the CEO of the universe. I think I'll overthrow God."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Daniel 5:18-23

We see that pride has the power to create evil ambition in a man, persuading him to rise above what he is to something greater—to become something that he thinks he deserves, even though he should have known better. Belshazzar lost his life and his kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride


 

Matthew 5:6

It is not at all uncommon these days to hear of an ambitious person as being "hungry" to accomplish significant things. Writers apply this term to athletes who want to make it to the professional leagues, to actors who want to attain stardom, and to businesspersons who seek to become CEO or president of a major corporation. These people drive themselves to work harder than their competition. They push themselves in studying every facet of their discipline, and they practice longer and harder than others. Their ambition knows no limits. They seem to play every angle to bring themselves to the attention of their superiors. They seize every opportunity to "sell" themselves to those who might be useful in promoting them.

Some but not all of these nuances are present in Jesus' use of "hunger" and "thirst" in Matthew 5:6. He describes a person who from the very depths of his innermost being has a driving need to satisfy a desire. William Barclay, in his Daily Study Bible commentary on Matthew, provides a colorful description:

Words do not exist in isolation; they exist against a background of experience and thought; and the meaning of any word is conditioned by the background of the person who speaks it. That is particularly true of this beatitude. It would convey to those who heard it for the first time an impression quite different from the impression which it conveys to us.

The fact is that very few of us in modern conditions of life know what it is to be really hungry or really thirsty. In the ancient world it was very different. A working man's wage was the equivalent of three pence a day, and, even making every allowance for the difference in the purchasing power of money, no man ever got fat on that wage. A working man in Palestine ate meat only once a week, and in Palestine the working man and the day laborer were never very far from the border-line of real hunger and actual starvation.

It was still more so in the case of thirst. It was not possible for the vast majority of people to turn a tap and find the clear, cold water pouring into their house. A man might be on a journey, and in the midst of it the hot wind which brought the sand-storm might begin to blow. There was nothing for him to do but to wrap his head in his burnous and turn his back to the wind, and wait, while the swirling sand filled his nostrils and his throat until he was likely to suffocate, and until he was parched with an imperious thirst. In the conditions of modern western life there is no parallel at all to that. (vol. 1, p. 99)

We see, then, that Jesus is not using "hunger" or "thirst" as we would describe the emptiness or dryness we feel between meals, but a hunger or thirst that seemingly can never be satisfied. With physical appetite, this would be a hunger and thirst that, even after a full meal with plenty of drink, we would still feel as though we could eat and drink much more! Again, as Barclay describes it, "It is the hunger of the man who is starving for food, and the thirst of the man who will die unless he drinks" (pp. 99-100).

Nothing can better express the kind of desire we should have to obtain righteousness. The Bible's writers frequently employ the imagery of hunger and especially thirst to illustrate an ardent desire, particularly for the things of God:

  • Psalm 42:1-2: As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

  • Psalm 63:1: O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

Even limiting hunger and thirst to our normal, daily need for nourishment illustrates a continuous cycle of consuming a most vital necessity for spiritual life and strength.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Four: Hungering and Thirsting After Righteousness


 

3 John 1:9-11

Who is this Diotrephes? Perhaps a better question is, "Who does this Diotrephes think he is?" Was he an apostle? Was he an evangelist? Was he a pastor? Was he a leading man in the congregation? Was he an "ordinary" member? John does not say, but it is interesting that John mentions that Diotrephes just loved to have the preeminence among them. It almost sounds as if he was only a member of the church or perhaps an elder. We do not know.

One of his most marked characteristics is he liked to be "Number One." He had to be the important guy, the one everybody came to for answers to their questions, the one to make the big decisions. He even went so far as to say malicious things against John - one of the original twelve apostles. He prated against him with malicious words. He spoke down on him.

John was the disciple that Jesus loved, and here some little man, probably in the church at Ephesus, was talking against the apostle who had put his life on the line for the church many times, who had spent years in exile on the Isle of Patmos, who (tradition says) was put in a vat of boiling oil and was not harmed a bit, a man whom God was obviously with - and this Diotrephes thought he was so important that he could point out John's flaws to the rest of the congregation.

Then he started disfellowshipping people because they did not agree with him. He kicked people out of the church who wanted to fellowship with their brethren whom he had put out. John promised, "When I get there, I'm going to take care of this. I will call to mind all these things and make what this man is apparent."

Given the way he treated the congregation, Diotrephes was a "Satan in the flesh." What he did was evil, which is what John writes in verse 11: "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil." He is warning, "Do not imitate the actions of this man, Diotrephes. He is doing exactly what Satan did."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Find more Bible verses about Ambition:
Ambition {Nave's}
Ambition {Torrey's}
 




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