“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 NIV
This simple little verse is rather non-descript at the beginning of this second chapter, and is easily overlooked as we anticipate the glorious truths of the humility of Christ in the next few verses. However, it gives rich and very important instructions for us as we live in this world, and especially as we live among other Christians. Look at those words gain — “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”
In other words, I must not do what I do in competition with others. This is also addressed in James 3:14-16 “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”
WOW! Selfish ambition, jealousy and envy are very evident in competition. The person who is competitive always must come out on top, they must continually be or do something “better” than another, they must know more, be right, and be the best. This kind of interior does not work the work of God, no matter how seemingly “good” it is. In fact, James says it is demonic. Now if I am trying to do as the Lord is leading me and I am doing it in a “competitive spirit,” then it does not do what I intend, it instead furthers the wrong kingdom. I will find myself participating in the works of darkness.
The attitude of humility, requires the death of all competition. Every time we feel it rise, we need to get to our prayer closets and begin to humble ourselves before God. Competition can only be conquered by time with the Lord Jesus Christ, purposely humbling and emptying until our interior attitudes are sweet and loving and receiving.
Competing with others will have me putting others down anyway I can in order to be seen better than they appear. It will make it impossible for me to encourage those who need encouragement, because in the long run, my encouragement will not be able to sincerely build them up — they might, just might, — be getting better than I am at a particular task.
Competing with others will have me mocking others (politically as well as personally) for the convictions they have — because I must appear superior.
I pray we begin to see this in the body of Christ. I see it all over the blogs I read (and I read some really good blogs). I also read some very delightful blogs where there is no competitive spirit and genuine differences are expressed and received. For that I am grateful, but quite frankly they are in the minority of those I come across. I see and read that people literally “vie” for the last word or the most authoritative word. Brethren, we can express all sorts of differences, and still loving receive one another.
I see this in local churches where I am allowed to minister. I see it in Bible teachers, in Sunday School teachers (I am sad to say there is a difference in those two jobs, but there really should not be). I see it expressed in the preaching, on and on it goes.
I believe the Bible speaks directly to the problem. We need to “see” it.
Lord, thank you for loving us and receiving us and for teaching us true humility. Help us as we individually work with you to submit our hearts and emotions for training in righteousness.