In the news currently is the tale of a church family.
Member set against member.
They are destroying what their Patriarch built by their current actions of taking each other to court...
Today's lesson is about us being members of one another in love.
If there be therefore any consolation (encouragement) in Christ, if any comfort of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies (affection and compassion),
2 Fulfill (Make) ye my joy, that ye be likeminded (same mind), having (maintaining) the same love, being of one accord, of one mind (united in spirit, intent on one purpose).
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory (Do nothing from selfishness); but in lowliness of mind (Humility. Note this next phrase) let each esteem other better than themselves (let each one regard one another as more important than himself).
4 Look not every man on his own things ( Do not look out for your own personal interests), but every man also on the things (interests) of others.
This Scripture initiates an understanding of the competitive spirit.
It will not only disturb you, but it will change churches and further open the door to the Kingdom.
We do not win the race through human competitiveness and by being able to bypass our brother or replace him.
We lose the race when we fail to prefer our brother or sister above ourselves.
We have already failed in the basic ministry of the Body when we have been competitive, wanting our place.
No one can come forth and really walk with God if he is always concerned for his own ministry and burdened for his place.
Let it be clear in your mind that you lose your race personally when you fail to prefer your brother or your sister.
Romans 12:10 says, Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.
This Scripture is found in one of the three great chapters which speak of the ministries of the Body.
Verse 16 says, Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Romans 15:2-3 says, Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself.
Walking in the Spirit is a race and a battle, but it is won by each individual alone in his own relationship to the Lord and to the Body.
You will never win a race and you will never win a place by being competitive and putting down your brother.
If you think that you must step on the neck of your brother in trying to reach up to the place that you believe God has for you, then you are deceived.
When you step on your brother, you are taking a step down, not up.
I John 3:16 tells us, We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
The competitive spirit still exists too much among God's people.
It is a key of failure in communal homes, in the relationship of husband and wives, and in the ministries of elders, deacons, and pastors of churches.
When you are competitive, you are running the race with chains on.
In the Kingdom of God, the new commandment tells you to love one another and to lay down your life for the brethren.
A person can get the idea that he has to be very aggressive and win the race or he will lose out; and so he goes all-out to squeeze in competitively.
He tries to be the one who has the maximum exposure in the spotlight.
In I Corinthians 9, Paul told how he was all things to all men- for example, to the weak, he was as one who was weak.
Then he said, And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow-partaker of it.
He was not concerned about what he himself was going to receive, but about what everyone else would receive with him as a fellow - partaker.
Paul went on to say, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self- control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave ( this is where the battle is- not in beating your brother, but in buffeting your body ), lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. I Corinthians 9:24-27.
This is the purpose of the whole race and the whole war and the whole battle- to bring yourself into perfect submission to God, not to sidestep or work around your brother.
It is not like a race, begun with a starting gun, where the object is to see who can run the fastest.
Esau was ready to race on with his camels and his men after meeting Jacob.
But Jacob wanted to travel slowly because of the little children and the cattle with young ( Genesis 33:13-14 ).
His consideration of them was one reason that God said, "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated." ( Romans 9:13).
Esau could be moved by a mess of pottage and a shapely figure; and so he married women from the Canaanites.
This was not so with Jacob; he married among the people where God said he was to marry.
He did what God told him to do, coveting above everything else the blessing of the Lord.
Although there had been a competitiveness in him previously, God beat that one out of him.
And when he met Esau again, it was not to compete with him; it was to bring a gift of his goods to Esau.
He won by losing.
Competitiveness does not exist as a valid principle except in the Adamic nature.
We compete in a race for the mastery of the spirit over the flesh, not for the mastery of our spirit over another man's spirit.
Our struggle is never against our brother, but against our own self.
Let me direct you to some Scriptures which indicate the factors that often are the reason we progress slowly when we could make much more rapid progress.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
I John 3:15.
Just a lack of love for your brother places you in the category of a murderer.
Even a mild form of hatred identifies you as a murderer.
Jude 11 speaks of the great sin of the last day when people go in the way of Cain, in the gainsaying of Korah, and in the error of Balaam.
The way of Cain refers to the fact that Cain did not love his brother; he was jealous of him.
Cain was furious when he saw that his offering was rejected and that Abel's was received.
He hated his brother, and so he rose up in the field and slew him.
Walking in the way of Cain means that you hate your brother.
Even a mild form of competitiveness involves jealousy, which is actually hatred, because love prefers your brother.
If you are not preferring him, then a perverse hatred is present.
We can say that we are submissive to the Lord and believe that we are submissive to Him and to those who are over us; but if we are merely suppressing competitiveness instead of getting rid of it, we are still not submissive.
Submissiveness is a key to effective communal homes.
In the homes where there is not really the fulfillment of the will of God, a competitiveness is found among the people.
Instead of loving one another and helping one another with problems, there is a competition going on among them.
The same situation exists in families.
If there is competition between a husband and a wife, their marriage is not effective.
Whenever one member of the family is fighting for a place, something is wrong.
The blessing of a family is reduced to almost nothing when there is rivalry between sisters and brothers.
In fact, the atmosphere can be so bad that the parents find themselves nervous and tense because of the sibling's rivalry.
When you are always fighting for a place, this indicates that you do not actually have a place.
You have no ministry when you are competitive.
Walking with God is not to be an ego trip.
Jesus said, "He who is the greatest is the servant of all" ( Matthew 23:11).
If we are not striving for a place for ourselves, but for our brother, we open the door to give him everything God has given us.
But if we are striving for a place for ourselves , we close ourselves off from everything that he could give to us and we become victims of every evil assault against us.
We cannot battle that battle alone.
We have no defenses against it.
We are overcome by it.
Let us look at three facets of the competitive flesh.
First, there may be the conscious, and sometimes unconscious, struggle to divert the attention that is focused on another to yourself.
Some people never seek any attention.
Others walk into a room, and consciously or unconsciously they become the one upon whom all attention is focused.
A competitive spirit causes this.
People often do that in homes and in churches.
Even grouping people together for special times of ministry to them must be done carefully, so that there is not one among them who has such a competitive spirit that he draws all the attention to himself.
A second facet of the competitive flesh is found in a satisfaction that exists only when you have eliminated the flow of attention to any others but yourself, and all attention is focused on you.
You can call it selfishness.
This can be a basis of jealousy; at least jealousy seems to be involved in this facet of competition.
Yet people who are not basically jealous still enter into this possessiveness in which they have to eliminate the flow to anyone but themselves.
A third facet of the competitive flesh is found in the basic conviction that the achievement is an attainment of individual, personal victories.
That is a lie.
You have not achieved something when you have won an individual or personal victory.
God does not want a brother in authority to pray and believe to come into fulfillment of his ministry by himself.
God gives him a bigger victory than that.
If he could do it by himself, a competitive spirit would be turned loose; and the other brothers would try to show they could d likewise, that they could win victories and attain goals by themselves.
God has made it impossible for us to walk by individual attainment.
We move because of one another.
We prevail because of one another.
God is not allowing a competitive race in which we see how many are going to be among the end-time company of disciples.
Every man who has been brought forth on the scene to be a part of that company has had his "legs broken" by God, so that he can win the race.
The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong ( Ecclesiastes 9:11).
We will come forth to do God's will without competitive spirit.
We cannot win with a competitive spirit.
God has ordained that no one will make it by himself.
You are not in a struggle to see how much intestinal fortitude you have.
You will not make it because you say, "I think I can; I think I can. I have the stamina; I have the will power. I can do it better than anyone else!"
Forget that attitude, because God will blow on it.
The competitive flesh also effects love relationships.
We constantly see situations in which people are jealous.
When we look into the jealousy , we see that they are possessive.
They feel that they must compete for affection and attention.
They feel they are being neglected.
Feeling neglected is often an expression of competitiveness when a person feels that he has not competed successfully; he has not been able to win.
God allows you to feel neglected and lonely because He will not permit you to win by a competitive spirit.
It is because of your competitive spirit that you do not win.
True love involves certain possessiveness.
True love may be possessive, however, if there is also a competitive spirit present, your possessiveness will be an affront to God, for you are demanding to possess another person in a way that God will not allow.
True love that God honors has a possessiveness, yet it does not exclude the priority of God- the priorities that God places over people's lives.
They are to serve Him in His Body as He dictates.
This means that no bond or relationship may compete with God's priorities.
If we have a competitive spirit, the real problem arises when we start competing with God.
Husbands and wives can do this.
What does it mean to compete with God?
We say of an individual, "He is mine!"
But God says, "He is Mine, first! I possess him."
When a husband and wife try to possess each other to the exclusion of God's claims on them, or even in a way that takes priority over God's claims on them, then they are competing against God.
The last thing you want to do is to compete with God.
You cannot say, "I love So-and-So. Forget what Gd wants in the situation! My possessiveness and desires come first."
You cannot do that.
Many times, when God chooses a man for a certain ministry, his wife comes on the scene and makes a possessive claim in a way that completely ignores and violates God's priorities and claims over her husband's life.
That must end.
The Word says, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." ( Matthew 6:33 ).
This means that you can have no objectives that compete with God's objectives.
Whatever God wants must have the priority; otherwise you are beaten right there.
Do you see how competitiveness is a wicked sin against God?
If you are racing with chains on your feet.
You are the loser.
God has revealed great depth of wisdom the sinfulness of the competitive spirit.
The competitive spirit is sinful.
One who competes with a brother or a sister sins against God.
He sins against the Body.
He sins against his own ministry and against his own walk with God.
The book of Philippians deals greatly with the competitive spirit, though it does not call it that; however, the meaning is still very clear.
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. ( Friction was in evidence there).
3 And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
What was Paul saying?
He was urging an apostolic ministry to get in and work shoulder to shoulder with some of the women.
Women seem more prone to be in competition than men, but there is also the war of the sexes going on.
Many women are put down because men want to take the superior place.
As the men overcome their competition with women, they can help the women out of the extreme competitive position they have with one another.
The problem that prevents women from assuming their proper place right now is the fact that the women are always competing with one another.
Each one is trying to be special and have a special place.
Women are usually far more virtuous than men.
If the ministries of authority deal with the competitive spirit correctly, the men and women can walk as brothers and sisters and eliminate any problems that might arise.
The temptations of the flesh can be overcome.
When people are sincere, and deeply motivated and dedicated, there is no reason why there should ever be any breach of morals within the body of Christ.
The basic competition of women can be seen everywhere.
In communal homes and in churches we see the juggling that stems from a competitiveness.
As God helps His people to overcome this, they will move forward spiritually ten times faster.
This problem is actually only minimal.
Although it sounds as if we are talking about a great sin, competitiveness is actually a simple basic spirit which reveals itself in the way people think as human beings, in their human concept of trying to overcome insecurity.
The human level of thinking about insecurity leads us to a possessiveness.
We have to possess another person.
We have to possess money or property.
We must have a certain monopoly in a skill or an ability.
As a competitor, we have to be "Somebody."
All of this is involved in the human concept of trying to overcome insecurity.
What does God want us to do?
Let me share with you my answer, which was my creed for many years.
I do not have to feel secure by what I possess.
I do not have to feel secure because I have an exclusive relationship with any individual or any number of individuals.
I do not have to feel secure because I have a unique ability or a talent that no one else has.
I feel secure because I know God loves me.
Anything the Lord gives me, I will give to others.
Any ability He imparts, I will impart.
I will have won my race when a thousand sons outstrip me.
i will be translated to a higher realm when I can give a son a double portion of all that I have from God.
To me, the law of life shall be, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" ( Acts 20:35 ).
When God shows me how, I will tell others how.
Whatever God gives to me, I will give to others.
This you must do also.
Do what Paul instructed Timothy to do: "The things which you have seen and heard in me, the same commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" ( II Timothy 2:2 ).
Take it and give it.
You must not fail to do this.
Being a part of the Father's family is not a matter of competition; it is a relationship of love.
The man who competes is not made perfect in love.
John the Beloved wrote, There is no fear ( the King James Version reads, "no torment" ), in love; but perfect love casts out fear (torment), because fear ( torment) involves punishment, and the one who fears ( is tormented) is not perfected in love. I John 4:18.
When you are competitive, there is an element of torment.
You are driven by something other than love.
The competitiveness of fear is based on insecurity.
It is a torment.
John said that one who has this fear, or torment, is not made perfect in love.
We remember the love of our Master, who, being in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to strive after ( Philippians 2:6 ).
Neither will we strive to rival or to compete in any way with our brothers or sisters or with God's purposes in our lives.
Let us submit ourselves to walk in love, a love that will be without torment of competitiveness.
God s calling for us to love one another.
If you are in competition, then your love is not made perfect.
Love until you prefer your brother above yourself.
Ask God to deliver you from the torment of competitiveness, into the perfect peace of love.
Do not compete for a relationship that will exclude others from tat bond.
When you do exclude others, they feel cut off.
Have you ever heard the statement, "I feel cut off"?
Maybe you were responsible for that person being cut off.
Maybe you were striving for a relationship that excluded him.
When you see something wrong with your brother, the competitive spirit will keep you from giving him the credit that is due him.
The competitive spirit leads us to believe gossip and to judge a situation before we objectively weigh it or seek God about it.
Real love rejoices not in iniquity; it rejoices in the truth.
Real love thinks no evil.
When we get rid of the competitive spirit, we will be surprised to see what an impediment it has been to perfect love.
The teaching is a basic Kingdom revelation.
Competitiveness must be put to death.
Do not only consent to it; will it to happen.
Determine that it is going to happen.
We will all say to God, "I will not compete with You, God, I am going to seek first what You want."
We will say to one another, "I will not compete with you, my brother.
I will not compete with you, my sister."
We will not compete with those of our own household.
Great things are before us in the immediate future.
We will win the greatest victories and attain the greatest achievements; but they will be really great because we are not going to struggle with a competitive spirit.
God has opened the door for you to walk without competition.
This is a beautiful goal.
Many things will be eliminated out of your life which you would otherwise be very slow to overcome.
Let the Lord open your heart to see this as a very deep truth.
Let this Word from the Lord be driven so deeply into your spirit that it burns like a fire within you.
To receive this Word is to be able to walk in it.