Selfish Ambition
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In our counseling, we find that "selfish ambition" is a fundamental barricade to intimacy and fruitfulness in people's relationships, particularly with their spouses. This Biblical term, eritheia (Strongs #2052), is found in Philippians 2:3 (NASV), where Paul exhorts us to "do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself."

"Selfish ambition" comes from a root word originally meaning "working for hire, a hireling." Later, the root meant "a spinner or weaver, a worker in wool." Eritheia was used in secular Greek of "those who electioneer for office, courting popular applause by trickery and low arts," thus it meant "electioneering or intriguing for office" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

Eritheia thus identifies heart motives of pride, self-love, and self-advancement. It reveals the drive to put oneself ahead of others, and to deceive by "spinning" the truth in order to look good and hide the inner selfish purposes as one pursues getting his own way.

In Romans 2:8, self-will and self-seeking mark those who receive indignation and wrath from God's judgement. And James says (3:15-16) that the wisdom that empowers selfish ambition is earthly, natural, demonic; it opens the door for disorder and every evil thing.

Clearly, self-saving and self-serving separate people and kill relationship, even in small doses. When we encounter this heart condition in counseling, our aim is to expose the motives and their consequences by the Spirit of God so that understanding and conviction will come. Eritheia must be laid down through repentance and replaced with humility. For Paul says (Phil 2:5-8) we are to walk in the same humility that Jesus Christ displayed when He left heaven and came to serve men in obedience to His Father's will. It cost Him his life. It will cost us our lives also.

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