Let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~James 3:13-18
A couple of weeks ago, I began a study on Faith Tests for Christian Writers by studying this passage from James.
As Christian writers, our writings are our works. This passage teaches us the correct way to view our works, our writings, from a Biblical perspective.
In Part 1, we asked: Do we, as Christian writers, have meekness of wisdom? (Faith Test for Writers, Part 1)
Today, let’s look at a second question derived from this passage. Do we, as Christian writers, suffer from bitter jealousy?
Jealousy touches everyone at some point. Jealousy drives a lot of unchristian behavior. Jealousy makes us do and say things that normally we would not say or do.
One time, a group I participated in was given an assignment to write a short essay. I cannot remember the topic; however, I do remember one person doing an exceptional job.
I also remember my reaction. As we left the room, I made a catty remark. I remember it well, because my conscience pricked me. The exceptional writer was a close, Christian friend, a friend I should have congratulated on a job well done. Instead, to make myself feel better about my own feeble attempt, I put her down.
God calls us to use the special talents he has endowed us with, even if they are not on par with others.
I worked hard, but I did not succeed as well as my friend. So what? I am stilled called on by God to do my best.
One of Tim Tebow’s favorite quotes is this: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. ~Tim Notke
Our talents may not equal those of someone else, but we can work just as hard as they do. Will we garner the same amount of success if we put in the hours? Probably not. But we will be using the opportunities God has given us instead of burying them in the ground.
My preacher, Mark Littleton, taught this passage not long ago. He used this illustration: “What is the most difficult instrument to play?” a reporter once asked a famous conductor. The conductor answered, “Second fiddle. No one wants to put in the hard work required to become second fiddle. If they can’t be first string, they simply quit.”
As Christians, we are not given that option. We are to do our best whether we are first, second, third, or even last.
When we work solely to please God and not man, and that “man” includes self, we will be able to put aside jealousy. God loves each of us equally. There’s simply no need for jealousy.
Furthermore, if we work to please God, we will be able to truly rejoice with those who succeed. We will know they are expanding the borders of God’s Kingdom.
And, for that, we should be truly grateful. A grateful heart has no room for jealousy.
Here’s our test with question #2:
Join me next Monday to look at the next question in this series:
Do I have selfish ambition in my heart?
(Special thanks to Mark Littleton for his lessons on James.)