Today we are going to Make Space for God together by looking at what causes people to compete with one another. There is healthy competition, such as athletes who have prepared for the competition and are actively charged to go out there and do their best. Then there is competition that involves wanting something that someone else has; competing and playing the “one-up game”. This sometimes involves seeing who has the most toys (material goods, success, etc.).
What does Scripture have to say about competition?
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:3)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not men. (Colossians 3:23)
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:26)
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1)
Friends, we need to make space for healthy competition, using our gifts and talents for the Lord, giving Him all the glory. However, we also need to recognize that sometimes we get caught in the unhealthy zone of competition envying others. We covet what others have or try to outperform in the workplace, as a parent, or in any of our relationships.
The other day two of my grandchildren were having what I would call healthy competition that turned ugly. At first, they were both showing off their talents; one could swim farther, the other could throw the ball farther and on and on it went. Until the tide turned and my little grandson decided he wanted to up the odds of who really could outperform the other. They were playing a game of pirates and he decided he would be the pirate. He ruled the roost, bossing his little sister around until she had had enough of that. Game on! She pushed him off the pretend pirate boat and ruled the day. It deteriorated from there and there was lots of crying and arguing.
The key to healthy competition, according to Paul, is doing everything for the glory of God. My grandchildren are learning about life as they go, but you can be sure that I am praying that one day they will learn to sacrifice for one another and love one another with Christ’s love. In the meantime, there will be more tears and arguments. But that is part of growing up.
Join me this semester for a study on Philippians (click here for more info). God’s people grew up but they forgot God in the process. Other gods competed for their affection. It did not go well for them. But God did not forsake them forever. When they turned back to Him, they were restored. As we study this magnificent book of the Bible, we will learn how to live our lives for the glory of God.