October 29, 2007 Ration

James 3:16-17

“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.”

Can you imagine for a moment an art culture where there was never a wrangling for ratings, or a posturing for a position over another artist? No jealousy over whose works were being shown and at what venue? No bickering or self-pitying over a lesser visible stage? No exercising of the mind towards derailing, or “knocking-off,’ or “up-staging” another artist? Could there possibly be any hope for an art culture that is completely selfless and only grateful for the grace and pleasure found in another’s work? Not as long as jealousy and selfish ambition rule the hearts of artists and observers. Under these masters, every disorder and vice run free.

A few verses earlier James says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” (v13). There is no breeding ground for jealousy and selfish ambition where Meekness is the presenter of true wisdom.

What if all artists presented their particular artistry from a mind of giving to the observer that which they were already taking great pleasure in themselves (with the assumption here that they took pleasure in what was good)? Presented not in a fishing-for-recognition or demanding or prejudiced manner, but rather from a serving heart that is impartial and sincere, pure, and full of mercy. A heart that genuinely shares and serves will always yield the greater potential for lasting and fuller pleasures in the arts. Where there is jealousy there will always be disorder, and where there is selfish ambition there can only be vile practice.

Everyone knows that jealousy and selfish ambition are not crowns of glory to be worn, and yet in our hunt for the enjoyment of glory, the horses of jealousy and selfish ambition too often prove to be the steeds we employ to ride. Our error is the old familiar one of pursuing our glory rather than pursuing God who is completely glorious.

The wisdom from above is pure, uncontaminated by the motives of the flesh. It is peaceable, it is not obsessed with it’s own rights. It is gentle, not forcefully cruel. It is open to reason, it is not irrational. It is full of mercy, not unforgiving, full of good fruits, and not void of nourishment. It is impartial, not unfairly influenced. And it is sincere, not cunning or disingenuous. Where we pursue our own glory in the arts through jealousy and selfish ambition, we only demonstrate what the antithesis of wisdom is.

Artists, in your pleasures, pursue God who is truly glorious and you will be so completely satisfied with the wine of His vats, that you will not have the taste or the drive for the fabrication of your own. The pursuit of your own glory in the pleasures of the arts, rather than a pursuit of the enjoyment of that which is zenithly glorious, namely, God Himself, will only and surely leave you suffocating in the tunnels of disorder and every vile practice. Be rid of your own glory, artists, slay jealousy and selfish ambition, and you will at once breath deep and freely of glory’s luscious air.

Jason Harms


© 2007 The Gaius Project