But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
We previously discussed what motivates us to choose worldly wisdom over the wisdom of God. Our previous devotional covered how we allow jealousy and envy to cause us to make this choice.
The KJV translation uses the word “strife” to discuss our next topic. Other translations use the words, “selfish ambition” to relay the thought. Not only are we jealous of what others have which we do not have, but we are strongly motivated by our own ambition to choose worldly wisdom.
We want what we want, we want it how we want it, and we want it now. That sums up our sinful natures and drives us to gain our wisdom from the wrong sources. The world tells us how to get what we want, God tells us how to get what He wants, which if we had any sense we would realize is, in fact, best for us.
Many writings on the word strife here give it the meaning of having a “party spirit.” This was often used to refer to a person who was beating the streets to gain a political job. That really sums up the image quite well of what James is saying. This would be us manipulating; this is us operating with a hidden agenda to accomplish our own goals; this is us either trying to manipulate people to obtain our own position or ingratiate ourselves with the person who does have a position.
Paul was inspired to write something on this topic as well(There Paul is again, with James.) :
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
James is teaching us that our own agendas and needs are secondary. First and foremost, our goals should be God’s goals. Actually, reverse works better on that phrase; God’s goals should be our goals.