Jealousy and Selfish Ambition….
Wisdom that comes from our self ambition is not the wisdom we want to have:
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. -James 3:14-16, NAB
One would think that wisdom is wisdom, and all wisdom is good. But according to St. James, that is not always the case.
There are times that our wisdom comes from our jealousy and selfish ambition. Do we seek wisdom simply to keep up with the Joneses? Do we pursue intelligence only to further our careers? Do we intend to use anything we’ve learned for Christ or His Church?
The hard part is that only we can tell the difference. We are the only ones that know what is in our heart (except God, of course), so only we can judge the source of our wisdom.
Do we seek a high-paying job because it provides security for our families (one of our primary vocations), or because we want a big house, nice car, and fine jewelry? Are we trying to get a promotion to make a greater impact for good or for the status we gain from it?
It’s a difficult trap to avoid. Jealousy and selfish ambition have been disguised as drive, success, and self-actualization. But if we can recognize them for what they are, we have a better chance of defending ourselves against them.
Jealousy and self ambition may lead us to wisdom, but it is a form of wisdom we do not want to have. The true path to wisdom is paved with humility – an easier path to travel once we find it.