Bible verses about ambition
Is ambition a sin? The answer is it depends. These Scriptures are to show you the difference between worldly and godly ambition. Worldly ambition is selfish. It’s seeking success in the things of the world and competing with people of the world. It’s saying, “I’m going to work hard to have more than you and become better than you” and Christians should not be like this.
We are supposed to have ambition in the Lord. We are supposed to work for the Lord and not out of rivalry to be better than anyone, have a bigger name than others, or have more stuff than others.
With that said it’s a great thing to have ambition, dreams, and to be a hard worker, but a Christian’s ambition is to be towards Christ.
- “My main ambition in life is to be on the devil’s most wanted list.” Leonard Ravenhill
- “I know of nothing which I would choose to have as the subject of my ambition for life than to be kept faithful to my God till death, still to be a soul winner, still to be a true herald of the cross, and testify the name of Jesus to the last hour. It is only such who in the ministry shall be saved.” Charles Spurgeon
- “True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the profound desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.” Bill Wilson
- “All ambitions are lawful except those that climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind.” – Henry Ward Beecher
What does the Bible say?
1. Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.
2. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you.
3. Ephesians 6:7 Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men.
4. Proverbs 21:21 Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
5. Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
6. Psalm 40:8 I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.
Ambition to advance the Kingdom of God.
7. Romans 15:20-21 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.”
8. Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
9. 2 Corinthians 5:9-11 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
10. 1 Corinthians 14:12 Therefore, seeing that you are ambitious for spiritual gifts, seek to excel in them so as to benefit the Church.
We are to be humble.
11. Luke 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
12. 1 Peter 5:5-6 In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand.
Biblical ambition puts others before self. It makes sacrifices for others.
13. Philippians 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
14. Philippians 2:21 all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
15. 1 Corinthians 10:24 Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person.
16. Romans 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Selfish ambition is a sin.
17. Isaiah 5:8-10 What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field, until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land. But I have heard the LORD of Heaven’s Armies swear a solemn oath: “Many houses will stand deserted; even beautiful mansions will be empty. Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine. Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.”
18. Philippians 2:3 Do not act out of selfish ambition or conceit, but with humility think of others as being better than yourselves.
19. Romans 2:8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness.
20. James 3:14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth.
21. Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
We must seek the glory of God not the glory of man.
22. John 5:44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.
23. John 5:41 I do not accept glory from men.
24. Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
You can’t serve two masters.
25. Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
1 John 2:16-17 For everything that belongs to the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle–is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.