Competition is one of my signature strengths. I don’t like losing or being wrong. By God’s grace I am mellowing with age. So, I can somewhat identify with John when he and his buddies were bothered that someone they didn’t know was taking on demons in the power of Jesus’ name yet wasn’t part of their signature team. I’m sure he felt that that it was completely inappropriate for one who was not spending time at the feet of the Master to minister as a supposed follower. But John and his fellow disciples were misguided in their thinking.
Mark 9:38-41—John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”
“Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For whoever is not against us is for us. And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of My name, since you belong to the Messiah—I assure you: He will never lose his reward.
Competition can have the adverse effect of blinding its possessors. Taken to the extreme it can be cruel—win at all costs. It can miss truth because it thinks it is truth. It may rationalize crushing others yet cry foul when they do the same thing. It may win the battle and lose the war. It may believe that winning is everything and gain nothing. Perhaps what is saddest is that it often misses the very things that God honors—mercy, kindness, grace and redemption. God’s greatest competitor is Satan. He disdained all that God made and gave him, to seek what he can never have and never deserved. In his blind ambition only God knows how many lives he has destroyed. His punishment will be horrific.
Competition can be the fuel that pushes us to greatness. Taken in the right perspective it puts an end to pity parties, stretches us to do better and helps us concentrate on the prize that matters. Competition says no to mediocrity, scoffs at foolish compromise and cheers on its teammates. Cloaked rightly it inspires. It elicits cheers—trumpet calls; gladdens hearts.
Do you see someone you don’t know out ministering in Jesus’ name? Give her the encouragement to press on. Those who love Jesus are part of the family. Beware of unhealthy comparison or judging motives. Lose envy. That person you may not understand may share the cup of water you need on your thirstiest day. Jesus saw it. May we too understand.
It is ingrained in our thinking that competition and rivalry are essential to the carrying on of civilized life; that is why Jesus Christ’s statements seem wild and ridiculous.—Oswald Chambers in Not Knowing Where
©2021 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)