James 3 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional

“Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and lie in defiance of the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil.” James 3: 13-16

For all of my adult life, I have been in the music business, singing songs about Yeshua. While many great songs of praise come out of the Christian music industry, it also has its share of envy and self-ambition. These two negative attributes are fueled by money, notoriety, and an over-anxious need for G-d’s acceptance. They pretty much define human competition, as a whole. A friend once said, “When you take G-d’s business and mix it with the music business, you get monkey business!”

While self-ambition is pretty self-explanatory, what is envy? Envy is pride wounded in competition. Think about it. When have you been envious? Has it not been when you have felt someone was succeeding, despite your efforts?

The classic Biblical case of envy, (while there are many) is Cain and Abel. Two brothers make offerings, sacrifices to the Lord. Cain’s offering is from the field, and Abel’s from the animals. The Lord looked more favorably upon Abel’s offering, for reasons we won’t get into now. The point is, that Cain’s reaction was bitter envy, which left unchecked, led Cain to murder his brother. Think about it: At that time, Cain slaughtered 1/4th of the world’s population.

In business, especially business which deals with ministry, this happens all the time. Hundreds of artists write songs to the L-rd, and record them for distribution in the marketplace. When one record becomes more successful than another, envy creeps in.

Given the rules of economics, supply & demand, very few artists can succeed in the competitive market. It’s lonely at the top, as they say. Most artists are not successful. Another saying: If it was that easy to grab, there wouldn’t be any left. That being said, most artists are left feeling underpaid, unnoticed, and what’s worse…rejected by G-d.

Who among you is wise? Reject the tendency to be envious and self ambitious. Find your identity in the L-rd. Rest in His plan & provision, and show your works as one who has already received G-d’s blessing of abundant and eternal life through Messiah.

~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Shuvah Yisrael
Daily Devotional, Monday, November 25, 2013