You know, I learn so much from parenting and watching my children. My youngest three who are still at home are all very strong in will and personality. Let’s say there is our fair share of sibling rivalry in our home. Why so much competition between them? I try to show each of them how much we value each one individually, we try as best we can to be fair, and we do discipline accordingly. I was actually so concerned about this to the point I was thinking I was failing miserably as a Christian parent trying to instil Godly principles and character. Until one day God spoke to me sooooo loudly in a dream. In the dream my children were squabbling competing over something. And I heard the Lord say to me in the dream, “This is what Paul was saying in the scriptures that competition is childish” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
As I woke up and was thinking about this dream, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Do you think I am a bad father?” I said, “no Lord, why would you ask that?” He said, “well you think you are a bad mother by seeing the constant competition among your children. You are identifying that as a reflection on your parenting. But I say it is a “sign” of childishness. It is normal for children to rival, and compete as they find their identity and learn selflessness. But it is not normal for them to stay like that. So keep teaching them the right way, keep disciplining them accordingly and when they grow old they won’t depart from it.”
WE NEED TO BE WEANED ONTO SOLID FOOD
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul notes he still has to address the Corinthians as infants because as long as there were wranglings, jealousy, competitions, envy and factions among them they were still in need of milk. Well milk as we know is the diet for babies. Babies can’t have meat because they will choke on it. But in order to grow up we cannot continue to live on milk.
In that moment I saw this scripture that I have preached on many times, in a new light. There are some behaviours that are childish. PHEW!!! That totally made me feel better as a parent. He was relieving my heart of beating myself up about my children’s sibling rivalry by noting it was normal childish behaviour that needed to be disciplined and trained and wasn’t the fruit of my drastic failing parenting. But at the same time I felt sad for the body of Christ, because the Lord calls childishness carnality. And Paul said to those who are still in carnality he could not talk to them as spiritual people but as men of the flesh!! WOW!!!
In order to grow up we need the meat of the word which will come to challenge carnality that hinders us from growing up into sonship. Son’s govern in authority and can be trusted with the wealth of the kingdom. They can be responsible with their inheritance and they are not need driven like babies are, but they know how to properly facilitate and appropriate the will of their father in heaven. Sons are led by the Spirit and operate by the Spirit (Romans 8:14). They are ones who walk in the Spirit and don’t fulfil the carnal lusts and cravings of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). They have grown in submitting their flesh under the authority of the word of God, and have put to death the lusts and passions that lurk in their bodily members. (Colossians 3:5)
Competitive behaviour is a lust of the flesh. It is self-seeking and self-promoting. A competitive spirit is not a team player and seeks always to be number 1.
“Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.”
A competitive person is exhausting. They suck the life out of you. They will always put their own needs before you because their interests are at the centre of their world. A person with a competitive heart wounds those they are in competition with even though they call you friend. The scriptures make it clear that the body of Christ are family, but yet they are in competition with each other. I’m sure God’s heart grieves the same mine does when he sees his children hurting each other through selfishness.
When I see my kids fight over stuff or try and put themselves before each other, say something hurtful to the other one because they are feeling insecure about something, or take the bigger piece of cake first, it actually grieves my heart. In a situation that happened at breakfast time before school today, I actually addressed one of my children and said “your competiveness is hurting your sister”. You see my child was bragging about something to their sister, and it wasn’t for the purpose of sharing a great thing that happened in their life, it came from the motive to make their sister feel bad about themselves and inferior. You see selfishness and pride hurts people. When your world is all about you and how everything effects you, you destroy those that care for you. I further went on to address with my children that constant competitive behaviour provokes and wearies people’s hearts and will actually cause people to drop off as friends. People who constantly brag about their “blessings” and “favour” and this success and that, to make you feel inferior, leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, and it can seem all their world is focused on them.
WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHO THE TRUE ENEMY IS.
We need to remember Paul said in Ephesians 6:12 that our war or wrestle, is not against flesh and blood, but principalities and rulers of darkness in the heavenly sphere. To wrestle means to strive against, compete or fight. So clearly our fight, competition is not meant to be with our fellow man, but is to be directed at the sinister evil warfare of the demonic realm.
People who are competitive invite you into the ring to prove yourself, if they haven’t already concluded themselves the verdict on your worth. These type of condescending arrogant people used to rile me up. Because I would say I am not naturally a competitive person. But when my value and my worth was judged or examined in their own conceitful minds and then thrown back at me to validate their superiority, well that would just have me in all sorts of fits and knots. If you associate with these people long enough, you begin believing their verdicts and their judgements (which is their conclusions) about you.
This is all a tact from the enemy to shut you down, believe a lie and operate from an orphan mindset or a bitter root.
Look at the Pharasees, they constantly provoked Jesus to prove himself. Numerous occasions, they taunted him to prove who he was and to offer a sign to validate his words. But Jesus would not rise to their competitive foolishness.
I don’t know about you but I have experienced people come in and out of my life with a competitive spirit. I flat out don’t let them in my close circle any more. Jealousy turns into witchcraft and can really be poison against you. Poisonous arrows are sent against you because as we see competitiveness is rooted in carnality and so is witchcraft according to Galatians 5:19-21. Believe me I have learnt the hard way.
Competition is dividing families. As a leader of a church community I have seen with my own eyes husbands and wives in competition with each other. One spouse jealous of the other and I’ve seen it in ministry marriages where they are competing with each other’s ministry. I just praise God I have a husband who champions me and who has been my greatest supporter. In actual fact he pushes me and challenges me to be all I can be in God. This is how we should be with our fellow believers. Encouraging them, challenging them to overcome all the hindrances in their lives that would stand in the way of them being all they are called to be and thus celebrating their successes.
THE TRAP OF COMPARISON
We do not need to measure ourselves against anyone other than Jesus Christ. To compare ourselves against others is a deceptive trap. The Lord is preparing His body to function in unity, He is bringing forth alignment in this hour so that each joint can supply and the mighty army can go forth in great victory. But that picture is somewhat dismal when we can’t celebrate the other functions in the army because we are too busy trying to be better than them. When we compare, we compete and it hinders us from celebrating each other’s function. If you think about the ridiculousness of the notion. Imagine the navy competing against the airforce. If that were the case, then the navy would have to hinder the airforce’s mission of success in some way in order for them to be on top. Does that even sound like sound thinking? Any normal person would think that is crazy. Well that’s because it is. And so is competitiveness, it is crazy from a true perspective. The bible says a house divided against itself will not stand. So our mission and commission can never be fulfilled as long as we are in competition against each other. Another word for competition is to strive. That is where the word strife comes from. So to strive is to be set against somebody. This is not the picture of unity that is a force to be reckoned with is it?
DO WHAT YOU DO WELL.
We just need to do what we do well. We don’t need to be driven by fear that we will miss out on our portion. God has given us an expression of Himself that we need to focus on excelling at and just be that part of the body.
A prime example is two of my sons are quite opposite in nature, but then in other ways very similar. Anyways regardless one of my sons I call the LOVER and the other I call the FIGHTER. Now both of them came out of the womb like that, one came out fighting one came out loving. Their expression of the heart of God is different. One’s expression of love is to fight for injustices and be an advocate for people and stand toe to toe with anyone for the cause of what’s right. When he was only three he would stand up to people, and never be afraid of conflict in order for the better outcome. And the other son just hugs everything that moves, and I mean, EVERYTHING, living or not, that moves and just has a heart to include everyone and doesn’t like conflict at all.
Is one less than the other? The obvious answer is NO! But at times I have had to remind my “fighting” son that my “loving” son is not born a fighter but a lover. And I am not going to “toughen” him up to be like him. He is born for his cause and he will overcome evil with good. And my “fighting” son was born for his cause and will go where angels fear to stand and deal with great demonic strongholds over peoples and nations because of his hatred for evil. He is called to be a voice to his generation that is in danger of getting swallowed up by gross deception and will speak out against hypocrisy and call things as they are. Now with that job at hand He needs a fighting spirit, he needs a hard head and a bold tongue. He will get annihilated without it.
So my brethren, keep your eye fixed on the author and the finisher of your faith. In other word’s keep focused on Him who made you He started the work in you and is well able to finish it! Don’t be distracted with what God is doing with your neighbour, how he is promoting them or showering blessings on them. Don’t get distracted with your position in the race, because it’s actually not a competition against another person, being able to stand before the Lord and hear well done thou good and faithful servant will take up all your focus time and energy, trust me, just be faithful with what you have been given.
Bill Johnson says “when you really discover who you are made to be, you wouldn’t want to be anyone else.”
Don’t envy and covet other people’s positions, promotions, blessings, favours, lives, talents, gifting’s or anything else.
Don’t brag about what is going on in your life for the purpose of exalting yourself and displaying that you are better than other people. It’s ok to share celebrations and victories, but from what place are you doing it from? And is your audience appropriate in the moment. The bible says, when your brother is sad respect their position and don’t come bragging about your celebrations. In other words, weep with those who weep and celebrate with those who celebrate.
Don’t put down other people either if they don’t have the same expression as you. If they aren’t a fighter, don’t judge them, gosh we all can’t be fists can we! We also need loving arms to wrap around the weary and the afflicted.
FOCUS ON THE LOG
I heard the Lord say this as I was pondering on this word with him. “Focus on the Log”. In other word’s stop being distracted with the spec in someone else’s eye, and just run your race. Sometimes when you are feeling insecure or God is bringing up insecurities in you, you may want to lean towards judging and being critical of people in your mind to help make yourself feel better. But that right there is a sign your heart isn’t healthy and something is in need of adjustment. If you struggle to celebrate others because you feel ripped off or left out or left behind or forgotten by God, then He is there ready to deal and heal that mess. Pulling people down to make yourself feel better will only medicate for a moment. Criticising others is not your healing balm and may act like a deceptive anesthetic but all it does is feed a bitter root.
The bible says a bitter root defile those around you, and so let go of your competitive behaviour that has acted like a band aid to the real problem. Get healed of your insecurity and discover your genuine uniqueness in God. Turn from blaming this one and that, and even God if you have to, and humble yourself and receive perfect love that casts out all fear.
Let’s move on from milk, put to death the lusts and cravings of the flesh and receive the unadulterated word of God that has the power to save our souls. Amen.