In our world today, competition is the standard by all are measured and assessed by. Competition is as old as time and goes full force in every generation past and present. Some will argue if it wasn’t for competition we would suffer from aggression and be overrun by tyrants, hustlers, and thieves. Some will say that by competition we have fair prices on commodities such as grains, cotton, and tobacco products. Some say it keeps the auto dealers, grocery markets, and shopping malls honest and affordable. All these reasons might be true, but how does in come into play when dealing with Christian’s? The Apostle Paul has somewhat to say about this.
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” 1Corinthians 3:1-3 KJV
Yes, for a Christian to compete with anyone is a carnal, worldly nature that brings out the primitive needs to be better than someone else. Sometimes, the competitive edge gets so sharp the other person, business corporations, church functions, and or charitable organizations, gets a black eye and a bloody nose! Truthfully, competition encourages aggression, pride, loftiness, superiority over others and numerous other selfish and sinful traits that are a disgrace to the Christian. It is like this. When we are saved by the grace of God, we are set apart from this world and God condemns when we continue to act like this world. It is the LORD’s command that we act like God would act and conduct ourselves as a Holy and peculiar people, set apart from this world.
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1Peter 1:13-23KJV
So, now the Christian is in a dilemma, a catch twenty-two sort of dilemma. Just who is the Christian going to serve now, the one who saved him or her by grace, or the lusts of the world? Are they going to serve God or mammon, mammon being wealth, power, or fame? If there is one thing I have come to dislike, it is this notion to compete against other Christian’s. It doesn’t matter if it is at home, work or in the church, competition doesn’t belong anywhere in a Christian’s life. Let me ask these questions; how can you compete against another that is so different from you? Wouldn’t you have to be classed? Aren’t we all different in some way, fashion, or form? Would it be really be fair to others to compete against them? Would you be willing to lose to another Christian? I have read and talked too many will tell you a little competition is a good thing but how so? Are we out to demoralize our opponent? Are we out to crush our peer and make them feel inferior? Would you try to compete with a person who might be disabled? What if that disabled person had a great mind but a weak body, would you compete with them on an intellectual basis? Would you really run the risk of injuring the stability of another just to gain advantage of them? The point I’m trying to make is that this thing of competition is of the world and of the flesh. The whole point of competition, no matter how friendly and cordial, is to gain an upper hand against anyone who might be a potential contender. Pastors contented with other pastors trying to see who can build up the larger church, but to what end? The results are that the message is lost and the flesh gets glorified.
The verse of Scripture that the proponents of competition use is one of the Apostle Paul.
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. Philippians 3:12-17 KJV
What Christian’s miss in this Scripture and don’t understand is that we are to measure ourselves against God not other Christian’s. If we measure ourselves against each other we become high-minded, arrogant, prideful and hurtful to others. But if we measure ourselves against our LORD Jesus, we see ourselves impotent, weak, needy, and thankful of His blessings.
I am reminded of my early school days when we as young boys where taught by all our elders of the home, church, and school, to be the best at what you do and make sure you do it better than anyone else. They encouraged it and sometimes demanded it on the ball field, in the classroom, at the lunch table, or anywhere we are, to always put your best into what you do. Anything less is unacceptable. The teachers would put us against each other in spelling-bees, solving arithmetic problems, and writing skills. The coaches would then take us all and pit us against each other on the ball fields to work off our aggression and anger we had built up competing in the classroom. We soon found ourselves in competition against everyone I knew! I grew up as a week little boy who was competing with stronger and wiser boys of my age. I found out that I spent most of my life trying to be better than my peers and would do things to gain the upper edge on them. I found myself in such hot competition that one day, a person who I considered my best friend, walked off the field and never looked at me again. As I stood there alone I knew I had gone too far and I was the loser of a good friend. I live with that regret to this very day. From that day forward I have cursed all competition and abhor it so much that I find it detestable when I see in it in the local church assembly. Today, we witness the best singers, the best piano players, the best preachers, the best choir performances and the best bus captains packing in all those little children to gain an edge on their rivals. Yes, the church is a stark reminder of the corporate world and acts just like any corporation would act in competition! Competitive people have encouraged competitiveness in the church by advancing those who will compete. Boys are encouraged to be better that other boys in the ball games in the church schools and girls are encouraged to be better than other girls when it comes to choosing their future mate by doing what they have to do to get the strongest boys interest. In short, the church has become engulfed with the competition of the world. In fact, the church is competing with world corporations such as the Red Cross for donations and sanctions of monetary value such as tax deferments.
It is evident that the church and Christian’s have lost their zeal to fashion themselves like Christ Jesus, and humble themselves before God and others. The stumbling block to the Christian is to humble ourselves, would mean that we are weak and would be perceived as inferior to the world. I have actually heard Christian’s say that they are proud to be called a Christian, humble and proud of it. Doesn’t this send a signal to the world that we are going to compete? Nobody here wants to present themselves as inferior and weak, do they? Lest we forget, Christian’s are looking at this world with blinders on and have lost sight of the world to come where if we don’t learn to humble ourselves to each other we will be faced with reprimand from God until we adhere to His will for our lives.
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1Peter 5:5KJV
It is a very hard thing for a Christian to remember they are not of this world but of the world to come, the Kingdom of God within us. I suggest that we keep our eyes on the LORD Jesus Christ and fashion ourselves as He would. If we follow our leader I believe we will find there is no room for competition amongst the brethren.
“Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Romans 14:16-19KJV