Saturday, August 15, 2015

This is Not a Competition

Scripture Texts: 1 Corinthians 4; Psalm 61

Contrary to the messages we find throughout our society, life is not a competition. Yet, we are so easily drawn into competition in almost every situation of our lives. This starts early on when we want more of the sandbox to play in than all the others who are playing with us. It continues on into most aspects of our lives including our relationship with God.

Though we do not often use the words, we want to be more spiritual than the people around us. So we begin to generate lists containing all the things we do as efforts of our devotion. The checklists of bible passages read and memorized, the time spent in church, the mission projects, and of course the classification of sins. All of this can be summed up as religion, the human pursuit to prove we are more godly than other people. This is competition at its finest.

As we read from Paul we are not the first people to struggle with competition in our relationship with God and others. The church in Corinth, which could be any of our churches today, created competition between Paul and Apollos, and between themselves and anyone who might teach them. We certainly do not face a new struggle with competition, and the struggle is real.

There are two main ways to deal with competition in our lives, humility and honoring. Neither of these mean we do not strive for excellence, rather as we strive we must do so with a proper attitude. Humility is remembering that everyone can be on the quest to be all of who God has called them to be and another person's excellence does not come at my expense. Our goal in life should not be to become better than anyone else. Honoring, is taking time to recognize we are not all the same person and therefore do not all see the world the same way. When we honor another person we do not attempt to win them to our point of view, rather we celebrate the variance between us.

As you might guess, competition can be destructive in marriage. If we are competing to be better than our spouse it becomes increasingly difficult to be humble and honoring toward or spouse. Likewise when we are more humble and honoring toward our spouse, we are less likely to be competitive. Marriage is not a competition, between spouses and in comparison to other marriages.

Cultivating a healthy marriage requires humility and honoring. We are not to be working to become the best this or that in the life of our marriage. In fact we are most helpful to our spouse and our marriage when we strive to see the other person become all of who God is calling them to be. Rather than pursue our own excellence, we find more joy and a healthier marriage when we participate in our spouses excellence. This will not work, however, if we are approaching our marriage as a competition.

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