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Ten Concepts, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

28- Sinful ambition


It is an ambition which concentrates on the self and has worldly aims through means that might be wrong.

Examples of this kind of ambition are wealth, sensual delight, lust, money, titles, greatness, vain glory and the like...

The example is the rich fool:

"The land of that rich man yielded plentifully so he said to himself, "I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:18,19).         Image: Solomon by Gustave Dore, from his Bible Illustrations صورة: سليمان النبي، رسم الفنان جوستاف دوريه، من الصور التوضيحية للكتاب المقدس Image: Solomon by Gustave Dore, from his Bible Illustrations.

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: سليمان النبي، رسم الفنان جوستاف دوريه، من الصور التوضيحية للكتاب المقدس.

Thus he concentrated on material matters and on himself, he did involve God in his ambitions. So he heard God's judgment, "You fool! This night your soul will be required of you, then whose will those things be which you have provided?" (Luke 12:20).

Example of King Solomon (the wise):

He had ambitions of greatness and luxury, of sensual pleasure and women. So he said to himself, "I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards... I acquired male and female servants... I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of Kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men... So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them" (Eccl. 2:4-10).

But what did Solomon attain from all these ambitions? He said, "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labour in which I toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping of the wind. There was no profit under the sun" (Eccl. 2:11).

Such is the vain worldly ambition; it led Solomon to sin and be under God's punishment. The divine inspiration said about this, "his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God" (1 Kin. 11:4).

Another example of worldly ambitions is that of those who built the Tower of Babel.

They sought greatness saying, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves... " (Gen. 11:4), as we have discussed this issue before here on in other sections. Therefore God confused their language and scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth (Gen. 11:7,8).

God disapproved such ambition which was mixed with love for greatness and arrogance...

But the worst ambition indeed was that of Satan!!

He was an angel, even an archangel and was called by the Holy Bible "the anointed cherub who covers", and was perfect in his ways from the day he was created (Ezek. 28:14,15)...

Yet, in spite of his fall, Satan continued in his evil ambitions.

He even dared to say to the Lord Christ -glory be to Him- on the Mount of temptation, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me" (Matt.4:8,9). So, the Lord rebuked him and said, "Away with you, Satan!"

However he continued with his ambitions, wishing to compete with God, and to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth (Rev. 20:8), and cause the great apostasy preceding the Second Coming (2 Thess. 2:3,9).

With the same sinful ambition, he made our forefathers fall in the temptation of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, saying to them, "you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5).

Some kinds of ambition are associated with conceit.

Conceit may be preceding or succeeding ambition. Preceding conceit is the case of the person who thinks of himself more highly than he ought to think (Rom. 12:3).

Such a person might jump to spiritual levels surpassing his power and thus descends instead of being steadfast in such levels. He might also aspire to have responsibilities beyond his capabilities and thus he fails.

If such a person succeeds in anything, he will become conceited for other things and seek more and more.

Many political leaders failed due to over ambition for continuous triumph, such as Hitler and Napoleon.

The lust for glorification often caused trouble to the ambitious.

It even led them to covetousness and dissatisfaction as Solomon the Wise said, "All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full" (Eccl. 1:7), and also, "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing". For this reason, many who seek worldly ambition are in strife, in spite of whatever they gain or achieve.

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