Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Contentment Day 2: The Sting of Competition

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Welcome to Day 2 of our study.  We’re studying the book of Philippians for the next 10 days toward Christmas, in an attempt to grasp the lessons learned by Paul on his journey toward living a content life.  Through this study may God grant us the ability to see past society’s obsession with commercialism and materialism.  From wanting more of things, to wanting more of Him. 

Our first day took a look at the confidence Paul had in Jesus Christ and how his life was founded in that stability.  Today, we look at something a little different- something we need to purge from our hearts and from our lives: Competition. 

This passage has always struck me as peculiar.  Paul is discussing those who preach the gospel out of rivalry rather than love- the very opposite of what the gospel stands for.  I never understood why anyone would share God’s word with others out of a selfish heart…until I grew up into a woman, and began to see the twinges of competition and selfishness in my own life.

It’s true, like it or not, you at some point in your life have struggled with the idea of competition and comparison with those around you.  We are all chronic victims of this terrible disease.  And it is this disease that will lead us directly into the pit of unhappiness. 

Whether competing toward “winning souls” and preaching the gospel like those Paul mentioned in this chapter, or competing for the highest scores, best physique, or popularity…comparing yourself with those around you will either lead to destruction & misery or vanity & pride.  There is always someone greater, wiser, and more beautiful than you - and there is always someone less than. 

The sting of competition is so deadly because it causes us to live our lives passively: out of reactions rather than actions.  And, ironic though it may be, reaction (by the very nature of the word) always comes in second.

God calls us to live our lives proactively, based on the individual calling He has given each one of us and the deliberate way He has made us.  He calls us to revel in who we are rather than rival at the lives of others. 

May you have the strength to close your eyes to the lives of others, and open your eyes to live the life God has given to you, to be present in it, and to be thankful for it.  Amen. 

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