Ascension : News From The Grotto - Thought for the Week
Submitted by The Islander (Nathan Prince) 25.09.2003 (Article Archived on 16.10.2003)
This week's readings have so many great lessons in them. The wisdom that comes down from above, how it is pure and works for peace.
How the godless waste their time and efforts waiting vainly for proof of God's power. His power is not displayed in ways that they could recognize. Their hearts and minds are filled with the jealousy and ambition that is so alien to His teachings, and brings about disharmony and wicked acts.
Not all ambition is bad. Many great accomplishments have come about because of someone's ambition to complete a difficult task, find an answer to one of life's great mysteries, or discover a cure for a ravaging disease. Without the people whose intelligence and determination has allowed them to pursue these goals, our world would still be in the dark ages.
The ambition that James talks about is the desire and demand for things other people have, wanting something for nothing. This is the blind selfish ambition that destroys one person's soul, and causes him to bring harm to another. This is the ambition of thieves, warlords, and evil people around the world who want to possess what other people have, to enjoy the fruits of other peoples' labours, without having to earn it for themselves.
Jealousy adds to the misery. We've all experienced a bit of envy at someone else's good fortune, their nice income, flashy car, good-looking spouse, career success or winning lottery numbers. The trouble arrives with those people whose envy grows into jealousy, and they start to covet what someone else has. This covetousness causes them to feel that somehow they are deserving of the same success and their ambition turns to obtaining that which they are envious of without earning it on their own. When this happens, only disaster can result.
We see examples of this every day, from the relatively minor to the overwhelming. Someone takes credit for a co-worker's bright ideas or hard work on a project, a thief steals a teenager's name brand jacket, bought with hard-earned money flipping burgers, warlords stealing medical aid and food supplies, amassing wealth while leaving their people to starve, one country trying to expand their borders by force, and taking land from a neighbouring country.
So, how do we guard against this in our own lives, both becoming envious of others or being the target of envy. No matter where we look, there will be someone with more than we have. We've all experienced twinges of envy at some time. But how do we keep these little twinges from becoming jealousy? For most of us, as quickly as these feelings surface, they get swept away by our recognition of the many blessings in our lives. We remember the people close to us, and the little things that happen every day that bring us joy. And as the old saying goes, you never have to look very far to find someone whose troubles are much greater than ours. Whose place in life leaves them wanting for the little everyday things that we take for granted. We have to remain humble in the presence of those less fortunate and not make their life even more difficult.
All we have to do is remember God's teachings and His commandments. We all remember the one about Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, his servants, etc. We all remember that He has entreated us to be loving, kind and compassionate towards others. We have to be humble, not boastful, and thankful for everything good that God has given us in our lives. We must appreciate the fact that we are among God's chosen people, and are not among the godless, laying in wait, and waiting for proof of God's love. We can see the proof every day in our lives, and in the goodness that exists in the world. We can find this goodness, regardless of the evil things that happen.
We have done as Jesus taught us, and made God welcome in our lives. Safe in our knowledge of the surety of God's love, and trusting in His plan for us, we can find the faith and the strength to avoid the temptations of jealousy and blind ambition. When we do falter, we know that we can ask for and receive His forgiveness. As long as we stay close to God in the way that He always stays close to us, He will help us live the best lives we can. He will give us the strength to stand up against the ruthless people of the world. And we will give thanks and praise His name, for it is good.