First of all, I am encouraged that you desire to know God’s will in this area. You obviously have a “tender conscience” (which is a good thing!) and want to please Him. Let’s see what Scripture says on this very important subject.

In Ecclesiastes 9:10a we read, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT” (NASB). Now let’s read an exhortation in Romans 12:11, “not LAGGING IN DILIGENCE, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” In these two verses we see that the Lord desires us to be AMBITIOUS, as long as we are “serving the Lord” in what we do. He frowns upon LAZINESS and smiles upon DILIGENCE! At the end of the Apostle Paul’s life he gave this advice to his son in the faith (Timothy), “Be DILIGENT to present yourself approved to God” (2nd Timothy 2:15a), and this would cover every sphere of life. The Lord wants us to be ZEALOUS in everything we do, whether it is in our so-called “secular job” or our “spiritual service” for the Lord. The fact is all WORK should be for “His honor and glory,” as we see 1st Corinthians 10: 31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or WHATEVER YOU DO, DO ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.”

I trust you have already seen (from the scriptures cited above) that it all boils down to MOTIVE. If we are “being ambitious” with the right motive, which is to “serve the Lord in what we do and bring glory to His Name,” we are not committing a sin. Conversely, if our ambition and zeal are for selfish purposes, we are not in God’s will and will bring dishonor to His holy Name. I have known quite a few people who could be called a “workaholic.” They are “ambitious” in their work, but their motive is to GET RICH and to flaunt their possessions before others in order to GET PRAISE. Of course, the SIN OF PRIDE is “at work” here and scripture condemns this. Listen to Paul’s words to Timothy regarding this, “But those who want to GET RICH fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1st Timothy 6:9-10).

You had said, “The Bible teaches us to be content” and you were absolutely right. The verses preceding the passage just quoted states: “But godliness actually is a means of GREAT GAIN when accompanied by CONTENTMENT. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these WE SHALL BE CONTENT” (verses 6-8). If we can learn this valuable lesson and put it into practice, our “ambition” can be used to help others, which will glorify God AND help ourselves. We see this truth in Paul’s closing words on this subject in verses 17-19, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to DO GOOD, to BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, to BE GENEROUS and ready to SHARE, storing up FOR THEMSELVES the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” This makes it crystal-clear that there is nothing wrong with being ambitious and rich, as long our desire is to use our earthly possessions to DO GOOD and SHARE with others. In doing so, we will be helping meet THEIR NEEDS (which will glorify God) and we will be meeting OUR NEEDS for the future (in heaven). The Lord Jesus taught us this in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (446.3)  (DO)