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THE SPIRIT OF COMPETITION
 
 

A competitive nature or having a competitive spirit is perceived by the world to be quite beneficial, even essential to becoming successful in this life. A spirit of competition, that is competition itself is considered the motivational means to almost any desired end.    Being "highly competitive" is almost synonymous with success or achievement today.    And nowhere is this more manifest than in mankind's all consuming quest to develop his "human potential."
 

Competitiveness is not only encouraged, even well cultivated in today's society but it has been elevated to a fine art -in everything from high scholastics to basic gymnastics. This spirit has literally permeated and invaded every area of our lives from education to economics.
 

As a motivational force the spirit of competition or competitiveness is utilized as an essential "educational tool". Calling competitiveness a motivational or educational tool helps to hide the fact that -much more than being a benign mental influence, competition or competitiveness is the result of the influence of an ungodly spiritual entity. In the world of business it is a foregone conclusion that a competitive spirit is considered essential -a competitive spirit is considered a matter of economic survival in this "dog eat dog" world. Regardless of how man chooses to see these things, you do not have to look far to see the corrupt fruit of this spirit in the marketplace.
 

Getting "caught up in the spirit" of a competitive event, or for one to have what man refers to as a "healthy spirit of competition" are not meaningless motivational phrases of speech. Competitiveness is not benign, it is not harmless and it is not a spiritually healthy feeling. In fact, competition is not a feeling and it is definitely not harmless.Although the spirit of competition is sometimes disguised as "friendly" (so-called friendly competition) and even though it is assumed by man that having a competitive nature is "healthy," -this masking of the spirit of competition only serves to make it acceptable in the sight of man, when in fact competitiveness is an ungodly spirit.
 

Simply because man thinks he can control the activity of a spirit or because he perceives some good comes of a thing, -that does not change the nature of the beast. When you are willing to look past the thin veneer or facade of good that the spirit of competition wears, only when you are not afraid to tear down the idols (stubbornness of mind) that surround this spirit, only then can you begin to see what manner of spirit it truly is.
 

The evil effects of competition: discontentment, pressure, tension and stress (just to name a just few) are manifest everywhere. The detrimental effects of competitiveness are pervasive, the destructive influence of this spirit is evident in almost everything associated with this present world. The spirit of competition is a principality of evil, and this ungodly spirit is the primary motivational "force" behind nearly every human endeavor. Nearly every pursuit of the carnal man involves the spirit of competition in one form or another.
 

And here is where the things of the soul oppose the Spirit of Truth in the so-called powers of human discernment. Human reason, i.e., man's power of reason, tells us that there is a legitimate place -even a need for some form of so-called friendly competition. However, that is how the spirit of competition is seen from man's perspective. And from scripture we know that the carnal mind, that is, -man's powers of human reason, his carnal mind opposes the things of the Spirit of God. And so, human reason tends to approve those things which are esteemed in the sight of man.
 

Human perception is spiritually deficient and carnal reasoning is unreliable. It is human reason which contends against the Truth by insisting that there is a proper place in this world; even Christians have come into agreement with the world concerning what mankind likes to say is good about competition, a so-called healthy measure of the spirit of competition. But when it come down to the things of the kingdom of God versus the things of the kingdoms of this world, does it matter what man thinks is healthy about that spirit?
 

Christians ought to be aware and not be misled by man's faulty powers of human perception and reason. We are instead commanded to be watchful of the devices of the enemy which lead men -in their own understanding to call "good evil and evil good".
 

Christians ought not to allow themselves to be swayed by the power of human perception or the powers of human reason and logic. Christians should submit these operations of the mind of the flesh unto God. Christians should be "denying" these elements of self, and instead of walking according to the mind of the flesh, we should be submitting ourselves, our human perception and the reasoning and logic of the natural mind unto God concerning the things that pertain to the spiritual kingdoms. Christians should not allow themselves to be misled by carnal minded logic and human reasoning, -much less to bow to the highly emotional appeals that man uses in order to solicit emotional support of the activity of this spirit -as well as our sanctioning of this ungodly spirit.
 
 

Spiritual Roots -and the fruit of the tree.
 
 

Before we can deal with the misconceptions of man regarding the spiritual origins of competition, we need to first look at how man himself tends to try to judge these things for himself. And we need to look at how it is the tendency of man to lean unto his own understanding -not deferring to the Lord for the discerning of His Spirit.
 

We need to begin by acknowledging the fact that it is the way of man to walk according to that which is right in his own sight. Even born-again Spirit-filled Christians often do the same by walking according to what man himself wants to hear and/or what man himself deems to be "scriptural or not scriptural" in his own sight according to his own understanding of the written word. (Prov. 3:5,6 2Peter 1:20)
 

When it comes to the discerning of spirits, human perception is blind and the carnal-minded reasoning of the natural mind is idolatrous (self-serving and stubborn). "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1Cor. 2:14 KJV) Because spiritual things must be spiritually discerned (for us) by the Spirit of God (through Christ on our behalf) -it is the folly of man to rely upon his own perception and/or upon man's powers of human reason or logic.
 

Appealing to human reason concerning spiritual discernment and relying upon the powers of human perception (of what is right in the sight of man) only serves to support the harlotry of the soul of man in his defiant support and rationalization of the so-called good side of the spirit of competition.
 

Personal preferences should not dictate what is or is not spiritually profitable to us. Neither should we be swayed by mankind's seemingly legitimate desires (to have fun). Sadly, the things of the natural mind and the desires of the soul of man are more often that not allowed to usurp the authority of the Spirit. Strong "emotional ties" (love of sports etc.) and even intense gut feelings (which are the things of the soul) are commonly used as false guides for spiritual direction.
 

Man often supplants true spiritual discernment in favor of that which he has already established as right in his own sight, when the rule of his own carnal mind has become his highest authority. Sadly, in hardness of heart and the stubbornness (idolatry) of man's own mind, many believers often wrest God's word to support those things which every man is determined to approve in his own sight. The end result of man's reasoning & logic, coupled with strong feelings on the subject, leads man to justify himself in that which he approves in his own sight When man refuses to submit himself to God in these things and is determined to do whatsoever "seems right in his own eyes", God calls it wickedness.
 
 

Love not the world neither the things of the world...
 
 

Our love affair with the ways of man is wrong, it is spiritual harlotry in the eyes of God.

And love of the world can take many forms. As Christians, we ought to know that when we choose to be led by personal experience, human logic & reason or emotionally by our feelings, even our best judgment will be in error because to be carnally minded (led) is death. How then is it that so many Christians not only fail to discern but actually welcome this spiritual force called competition?
 

Instead of exercising spiritual discernment -not only has the spirit of competition become acceptable to Christians but most will argue that a certain "degree" of competitiveness is healthy and desirable! Obviously few have paused to consider how foreign -how diametrically opposed this entity (the spirit of competition) really is in the light of God's word; especially when it is compared to the character and nature of God. Even though it seems foolish to the natural mind to raise any objection to such an age-old, well-established, seemingly wholesome and even cherished American tradition as "competition," -no matter how time-honored a tradition may be, no matter how sacred a cow is in man's eyes, if it isn't of God, then it is simply not of God.
 

Truth is distinguished from error, darkness is divided from light -not by the powers of the human intellect, not through our powers of reason and logic, nor by our own understanding of what we choose to see or not see in the written word of God but rather by the power of the Holy Spirit through the gift of the discerning of spirits in the Light of the Word of God, in Spirit and in Truth.
 

When the unfruitful works of darkness are exposed by the measuring line of the Spirit of God's word, we must make the right choice to obey even if it means abandoning even the most time-honored traditions of men. If we choose to walk in the light, as He is in the light, we refuse to become as the world which loves darkness rather than light.
 

If we chose to fly in the face of the Spirit of God's word and if we choose to cling instead to man-made traditions, then God in His wisdom will allow us to suffer the consequences. The wages of sin is death, -to be led of the flesh in the carnal understanding of man, instead of by the Spirit is also death. Ultimately man will learn by experience what he failed to learn through the word of God: that man's ways are self-destructive --as opposed to God's Way which leads to life.
 
 

Love does not vaunt itself, God's Spirit is notcompetitive.
 
 

The Spirit of God is not competitive; God does not engage in competition and does not foster competition of any kind .    For the purpose of absolute clarity, let me rephrase that: competition in any form is not of God.
 

Our heavenly Father does not measure our achievements by comparing us one to or against one another (and it's a good thing He does not.) As Christians we are called to be saints and are anointed as kings and priests.
 

If we were judged by God competitively by way of comparison with our counterparts from biblical history, how could we stand? How many of us could measure up to the grace of the virgin Mary, the boldness of John the Baptist or the faith of Paul the Apostle?
 

Thankfully, we are not obliged to compete with one another, nor are we supposed to compare or judge ourselves amongst ourselves. God judges each heart individually. Each and every one of us are viewed individually by God as His child in Christ. In fact when we are in Christ, the Father looks not at us but instead through the blood of Jesus Christ, He looks to see Christ formed in us and not we ourselves at all!
 

Whatever we may achieve in this life is only by His grace. It is literally by the grace of God that any of us draw the next breath.Only our stewardship of the gifts or talents He has given us is judged -even so, not by comparison one against another, but each is judged individually.
 

It is not God's Spirit, but the spirit of competition which encourages man to judge competitively by means of comparison. In keeping with the Spirit of the word of God, we are admonished not to measure ourselves on the basis of any type of comparison with one another. In fact, scripture tells that we are not to esteem our own selves more highly than we ought and that we ought to always esteem others above our own selves. (See Romans 12:3 Philp. 2:3)
 

The scripture also teaches us that if we measure ourselves by ourselves among ourselves (as man measures himself against others) then we deceive ourselves. Rather than compare ourselves with others, scripture instructs us to deny self by esteeming others above self! (I can already hear the adamant even "biblical" sounding protests of "Christian" coaches and athletic instructors defending their professions.
 

Those who oppose the truth of the word of God concerning the spirit of competition in favor of sports, competitive events and/or athletics etc are like the silversmiths in Ephesus who protested vehemently when the teachings of the Apostle Paul's dethroned their idols and threatened their livelihood!
 
 

Surely it is foolishness and sheer vanity for us to measure ourselves: in ability, talent or skill among brethren or against others in any thing --especially IF we truly believe as it is written that of your own selves, ye can do nothing!
 

What outstanding literary accomplishment was ever achieved or what great symphony was ever written by anything but the grace of God -as the result of a gift of God! If you think about it, it is vain for man to believe that he is capable of thinking up anything truly worthwhile on his own.
 

To paraphrase the words of Paul the Apostle: If what you have and even the skill you develop is as the result of the gift of grace, if it is of God by the power of the Holy Spirit as you profess, then your competition is vain. For what then are you competing, -if only to honor your own selves? If we have and are nothing except by the grace of God, and if we are to boast of naught -except in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, then who really receives glory for fleshly achievements in any competitive arena?
 

Considering the fact that the nature of man opposes God and the things of God, just how many spiritual hymns written to the praise and glory of God, do you suppose really originated from man himself?
 
 

He is the Author and the Finisher of much more than just our faith...
 
 

The Book of Psalms was not composed as the result of the poetic skill of David as a great writer. The Book of Psalms was given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit -many of the psalms were penned by David but they were written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, not of man -but by the grace of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
 

PROSTITUTING THE GIFTS "FOR HIS GLORY" ?
 
 

Would it have been appropriate for David to enter the psalms in a poetry contest? Would such an action on David's part have brought glory to God? (NO!) It would have prostituted the gift of God for David to have done so. In addition, David was not the real Author of the Psalms. Rather than the Originator, David himself did not Author the Psalms but he was merely the chosen and inspired vessel who was used by the Holy Spirit to bring praise to bring praise and glory to God. Entering the psalms in a poetry contest would have brought glory only to David and as a result would have dishonored God.
 
 

EVERY GOOD THING IS FROM GOD
 
 

As a Christian you either believe that every good thing comes from God or you don't. And if every good thing comes from God, it is not of man -neither is it for man to present as his own -not even for the so-called glory of God.
 

Every good thing man ever accomplished throughout history has been wrought only by the grace of God. And since it was only by His grace, it cannot be attributed to the individuals themselves. No spiritual gift, mental ability or manual skill has ever been acquired, developed, or exercised except by the grace of God upon whom we depend for every breath we breathe
 

Although we do labor and put forth much effort in order to improve "our skills" or develop "our talents" -clearly it is God who honors our efforts by GIVING us the increase: without Him we truly can do nothing. In the end then it is God alone who perfects talents and He refines and tunes the skills -and in the end we will find that it was indeed all of Him and none of us and that we have nothing to boast except in Him, not in the gift or the talent, but in the Giver -in Him Alone.
 

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights..." (James 1:17a) Every gift or talent we possess worked for us by Christ in us and is given by the Father according to the measure of Christ -to the degree He chooses, and He apportions to each as it pleases Him. (Ego deflating, isn't it?).

Why boast ye?
 
 

Since the LORD gives whatever gifts, skills &/or talents He pleases and He gives them to whomsoever He will according to His purposes as He sees fit, -and since these gifts etc. are utilized by Him by the working of His Spirit for His glory in His own time (and that not of ourselves but by Christ in us) then what possible reason (other than our own vanity)could we have to justify recognition of "our abilities" through contests of skill. Competition is the folly of man!
 

What really is the purpose of feats of skill, and contests of strength? What then really is the point of cognitive contests or physical competition? Why do Christians engage in such folly? And how is it the Christians are not willing to "settle for" the unseen approval of God, rather than honor among men? In giving honor to whom honor is due, it is the Lord alone who is worthy, and all the praise, honor and glory are His Alone.
 

Since Christians are to do "all things as unto the Lord" we should not seek recognition in the sight of men but rather commendation from God alone, -all else is vanity. In these days when the Lord is searching and judging the thoughts and intents of the hearts of men, we must carefully examine not only our actions but also our real motivation and the intents of our hearts. We must not disguise our vanity under the umbrella of bringing honor and glory to God, especially not through the vain pursuits of men.
 

Competition isn't just a business tool and it's not an acceptable means to a justifiable end. Although it is without doubt a powerful motivational force, competition is an ungodly spirit which should not be used by believers -achievement or no achievements! Because the heart of man is deceitful above all things, because the heart of man is desperately wicked and who can know it (Jer. 17:9) it is important that believers not rely upon "their feelings" concerning this matter. Instead we ought to look to the Spirit of God to guide our hearts.
 

Only in the Light of Him who is The Word...
 
 

With the search light of His truth we must begin at once to thoroughly examine our acceptance of this "traditionally-familiar spirit" called the spirit of competition. Christians need to realize that any degree of competitiveness is ungodly. There is simply no such thing as a so-called harmless, healthy or friendly spirit of competition. This spirit is to be avoided, -no matter how good our intentions may seem to us to be, no matter how noble or religious the cause, regardless of how seemingly right or godly our goals!
 

It is high time for all Christians to seriously examine ourselves and ask ourselves the question: do we know what spirit we are of?
 

Should we indulge in the folly of men by participating in vain comparison? Does God's word instruct us to measure ourselves among ourselves or against others in any way and/or in any thing? Are the gifts of God: talents, skills or spiritual gifts that have been endowed by our Creator, meant for us to display before the eyes of men? We need to stop deceiving ourselves by choosing to walk according to the precepts of men -we need to repent of walking according to the flesh as men do in those things which appeal to the vanity of the mind of man and submit ourselves instead unto the Lord
 

We are admonished not to waste our talents in such vain-glorying in the flesh and we are exhorted to submit our talents to God that He may use whatever He sees fit for His use in the kingdom of God -they are not meant to be put on exhibition.
 

God is not into drawing men into the kingdom of God by feats of skill or daring -that is a device of men that glorifies man as the empowered man in Christ, instead of Christ in us the Hope of glory (but few have the discerning of God's Spirit to see, know or perceive the difference between those two!) The fact that souls are saved in spite of these practices only serves to reinforce some men in the deceptive idea that God approves of and accepts such practices!
 
 

The word of God does not in any way sanction any participation in any demonstration of any ability through any form of competition, nor display of skill or competitive test of talents with others. Any talents we have been given by the grace of God are to be used of God and that through Christ in us, the hope of glory.
 

"...his servants ye are to whom ye obey" To whom or what do you submit yourself?
 

"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Romans 6: 16 KJV We should not yield or submit ourselves to the "spirit of competition"!
 

Why should we prostitute the things of the Spirit in order to walk according to the traditions of men, simply because it purports to glorify God? Should Christians compete in business as the world does? What does scripture have to say about competitiveness in business? (Mark 8:36 and Mt.6:21)
 

If Christian businessmen allowed the LORD to set their prices, how many profit margins would shrink? What if God set their prices and marketed their products for them? What justification can believers possibly give for spiritual competitiveness among ministries? -isn't the fact that there is spiritual competitiveness among ministries an indictment against us? Are we not yet carnal?
 
 

Competitive merchandising and public display of spiritual gifts
is abhorrent to God!
 
 

Joseph and Daniel refused to display their gift of interpretation of dreams in any kind of competition with the king's own "wise" men but they went instead privately before the king; avoiding public display of their gift. Afterward they humbly refused to accept credit for their ability or skill. Even though they were rewarded, God alone was glorified.
 

No man was ever wiser than king Solomon, yet Solomon never promoted his gift by challenging others to enter into contests of wit or wisdom.. Solomon's wisdom was not acquired -it was given to him as a gift of grace as a result of his desire to rule God's people wisely.
 

Concerning physical gifts: Samson was the strongest man who ever lived; his strength was without question a gift from God. If anyone in history ever had the opportunity to competitively display physical ability before men "in order to glorify God" through contests of strength, Samson did.
 

For Samson to have engaged in any competitive feat of strength -such as a weight lifting contest or bending bars for the so-called glory of God, would have been unthinkable. Samson brought glory to God when he submitted himself and his gift back to God to be used -not by man to glorify God through man, but for the glory of God by the Spirit of God in His use of the gift of God.
 

Although Samson compromised his gift in his relationship with Delilah, he was chastened of the Lord at the hands of his enemies, and after he repented -then and only then did God display His strength through Samson.
 

In scripture, even though there are many admirable men and women of God whose example we ought to emulate, the God-given abilities of biblical personalities were never brought to our attention through their participation in organized competition or contests of skill. We learn instead of their successes and failures in spite of their gifts! We learn about their faith in God by example in how they walked, or failed to walk in the sight of God. In like manner whatever abilities we have been given will be made manifest in the sight of men, -by God Himself, through the person of Jesus Christ, in us the Hope of glory.
 

In reality everything we possess is a gift from God wrought by God by His Spirit for us through Christ in us. Therefore for any believer to enter into a contest with men in order to prove our abilities, to display a gift or demonstrate our talents or skills is to prostitute those gifts to honor our own selves -by which we do dishonor Jesus Christ.
 

There is no way to justify competition -not even by claiming it glorifies God or that it gives honor where honor is due, -competition is still the way the world measures men. Competition is one of many devices used by man to subtly usurp the honor and glory that belongs to God alone!