Your Ambition Might Be Satanic

Our culture values hard work, and for many Americans busyness has become a status symbol.

Who doesn’t want to be in demand? Thus we adore ambition and the ambitious. It’s here that the Bible gives us a serious word of caution. Not all ambition is good. In fact, there are some kinds of ambition that are really evil. There is such a thing as satanic ambition.

 

If you were to ask people in the church to describe demonic practices, you aren’t likely to hear the word “ambition” listed. Sure, maybe witchcraft, and Ouija boards, idolatry, and pornography, but ambition is a good thing, right? Our culture values hard work, and for many Americans busyness has become a status symbol. This was argued in a 2017 article out of the Journal of Consumer Research:

In contemporary American culture, complaining about being busy and working all the time has become an increasingly widespread phenomenon. On Twitter, celebrities publicly complain about “having no life” or “being in desperate need of a vacation.” A New York Times social commentator suggests that a common response to the question “How are you?” is “Busy!” An analysis of holiday letters indicates that references to “crazy schedules” have dramatically increased since the 1960s. To explain this phenomenon, we uncover an alternative kind of conspicuous consumption that operates by shifting the focus from the preciousness and scarcity of goods to the preciousness and scarcity of individuals. Our investigation reveals that positive status inferences in response to long hours of work and lack of leisure time are mediated by the perceptions that busy individuals possess desired human capital characteristics (competence, ambition), leading them to be viewed as scarce and in demand.[1]

Who doesn’t want to be in demand? Thus we adore ambition and the ambitious. It’s here that the Bible gives us a serious word of caution. Not all ambition is good. In fact, there are some kinds of ambition that are really evil. There is such a thing as satanic ambition.

James wrote,

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (Js. 3:13-16)

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