How do I know if my life is full of jealously and selfish-ambition? Because your life will be characterized by disorder and every vile practice. James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
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We need spiritual eyes to see false wisdom. One of the ways we can see false wisdom is we can see where it goes, we can see what its results are. Notice James 3:16, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” How do I know if my life is full of jealousy and selfish ambition? Because your life will be characterized by disorder and by every vile practice.
Let me give you an example of how the Lord convicted me of this as I was studying this passage. We have been trying in the last number of weeks to grow in our discipline in being in the word of God as a family. So I have been trying to make sure that all of my 4 kids have personal time in the Word of God every morning. For 2 of them, that means reading lots of the Bible. For 1 of them, that means reading 6 words of the Bible really slow. For 1 of them, that means listening to the Jesus Storybook Bible on the iPod on repeat over and over again, and never seeming to get bored with the exact same stories.
And so, we have been trying to cultivate this time in the Word and then make sure there is time for my wife to be in the Word because I am not washing her in the Word if I am not making sure that her busy schedule has time for the Word of God in it. And then getting myself in Word of God so I can be faithful to fill my own soul with the Bible and then to pray for you every morning. We have been trying to discipline ourselves for these things.
And the Holy Spirit and my wife have been making it very clear why I have trouble doing this. I always say to my wife, “I have trouble getting up early!” She says, “No, you don’t. You have trouble going to bed early.” You go to bed early, guess what becomes easy to do? I know there are different schedules, you can’t all go to bed early. The point is self-control, not what time you go to bed. But what I find is that I just want to look at the news. I just want to eat a bowl of ice cream late at night. I just want to look at Facebook. I just want to play a game. I just want to read a book – even a good book – but I just want to read it forever. But I want to do what I want to do. I want some “me” time now that everyone’s away.
And because I want a lot of “me” time I don’t have the time to serve my family and so the kids get out of bed and instead of order, there is disorder and chaos. And it’s not just because they are kids, it is because they have a selfish dad. Carol Mahaney gives the same example for moms. She talks about moms not being able to care for their kids because they are too busy carving out “me” time. And friends not being able to care for widows and orphans or their friends because they are too busy carving out “me” time. That selfish ambition will always result in disorder. It also results in every vile practice.
For years we would counsel men who were involved in pornography and they thought they had this problem 15 minutes out of every day, and the other 23 hours and 45 minutes were great, then 15 minutes a day they were selfish. And then you start asking them questions about their life, every minute of their life was selfish. If they were married, the way they spoke to their spouse was selfish. If they were single, the things they filled their life with were all for their own entertainment. So they were selfish all day, and 15 minutes a day it convicted them, because it was so heinous, those 15 minutes.
Selfish ambition always leads to every vile practice. Just the fact that our culture loves itself so much and wants to feel so good about itself and wants to serve itself so much, that’s why we have the rampant acceptance of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and polygamy. It’s not just because the laws changed, it’s because an unbridled heart of selfishness has not been changed by the gospel. And you need to recognize, when someone comes along with a disordered life, when someone comes along with a vile life, and they can have the most spiritual platitudes–“we are just trying to love each other”. They can have the most spiritual platitudes–“I am just trying to advance my ministry”. But it has nothing to do with wisdom. It’s earthly, it’s unspiritual, and it’s demonic, and the people of God ought to see through it and never follow it.