“For, where envy and rivalry exist, there you will also find disorder and all kinds of base actions” (James 3:16 Twentieth Century New Testament).
Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:5 that if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. There is a healthy rivalry or competition that provokes and energizes others to succeed or do better. And there is unhealthy and destructive rivalry; avoid it.
Rivalry (selfish ambitions) is part of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). Don’t allow it in your life. Walk in love towards others (Ephesians 5:2). Be interested in others’ success; don’t be envious of them and engage in rivalry. The success of others doesn’t stop you from succeeding.
Nobody has everything, and there are things that God has given each person. There are things that God has given you that He won’t give other persons, no matter how much they compete with you. Similarly, there are things that God has given other persons that, no matter how much you compete with them, you will never get. God wants us to complement, and not to compete with each other.
The Bible compares the body of Christ (the church) to the human body, which has many parts (1 Corinthians 12:13). “But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you’” (verses 18-21 New Living Translation).
The human body functions well because each part has different function (s) and there is no rivalry among them. If you want to enjoy your life, don’t engage in unhealthy rivalry. Paul tokd the Philippians to fulfill his joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind (Philippians 2:2). He told them in verse 3 to do “nothing through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each counting others better than himself” (World English Bible).
Christians should not be involved in unhealthy competition among themselves or with anyone. They should understand that, as said by John the Baptist, no man can receive anything except it is given to him from above (John 3:27). They must also not forget that the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong (Ecclesiastes 9:11). It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy (Romans 9:16).
Believers should live their own life, not another person’s. They should run their own race, not another person’s. They should run in their own lane, not in another person’s.
Unhealthy rivalry often creates an atmosphere of hatred and enmity with grave, evil consequences. “For, where envy and rivalry exist, there you will also find disorder and all kinds of base actions” (James 3:16 Twentieth Century New Testament). Because of rivalry, some people have resorted to even murder.
Cain killed his brother, Abel, because of unhealthy rivalry with him. He couldn’t celebrate his brother’s success. Instead of learning from Abel what he did for God to accept him and his offering, he killed him (Genesis 4). Psalm 133:1 says, “How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live together in harmony!” (New Living Translation). Avoid rivalry; embrace harmony..
You should not destroy others because you want to succeed; you don’t need to pull anyone down so that you can rise. What you sow, you will definitely reap. “Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4 New King James Version).
There is no need for rivalry. Paul said in Philippians 1:15 that some people were preaching Christ out of jealousy and rivalry, but others preached about Christ with pure motives. You wonder what type of Christians the first category of people were! How could they be preaching out of jealous and rivalry? How could they be engaging in spiritual assignment with a worldly mind? Non-believers can engage in unhealthy rivalry, but it is uncalled for among believers. This is not the Spirit of Christ.
Believers are supposed to complement each other, not to compete. We can learn from each other without being envious. We are to support each other and not to fight each other. We are not to envy each other, but to encourage each other. We can be challenged by others to fulfill our destiny without being jealous of their success.
There is the need for mutual encouragement of each other’s faith so as to become a blessing to each other (Romans 1:12). Others can encourage your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Hebrews 10:24 says, “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds” (New Living Translation). Avoid unhealthy rivalry.
If you’re not born again, repent of your sins today and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Whoever comes to Him, He will by no means cast out.
PRAYER POINT: Holy Spirit, help me to compete fairly, when and where necessary, to the glory of God / Father, let me not engage in unhealthy rivalry.
This is wisdom for living, and it’s worth sharing. Please share.
▪ Banso, an Abuja-based minister and pastor heads Cedar Ministry International
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