Look Out for Number One


James 3:13-17 (NIV)
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.


This passage is all about the difference between how society wants us to live and how God wants us to live.

Society says, “Look out for number one.” Society says we have to get ourselves ahead…at all costs. That generally means we have to prop ourselves up by pushing other people down. This scenario plays itself out all the time on all the TV reality shows. The contestants have to scheme and conspire and lie and backstab to make themselves look better than everybody else. It’s called selfish ambition: getting ourselves ahead regardless of the cost to anybody else.

Is it possible we do the same thing in an effort to be friends with popular people?

Society motivates us by envy.. The popular kids have the nicest clothes, date the coolest people, and seem to have more fun and better lives. And we want that. We’re jealous.

Society’s wisdom tells us to be motivated by jealousy, to brag about ourselves so we look good, to get ourselves ahead no matter what, even if it means lying to people.

But God’s wisdom tells us to be motivated by mercy and consideration. God’s wisdom tells us to pursue peace and harmony, truth and purity in all things.


Spend some time reflecting on how you might be jealous or might be hurting others to get yourself ahead. Then, pray for God’s wisdom to take over those situations instead.


If today’s devotion spoke to you in a particular way and you feel led to share your thoughts with others, please do so.