Monday, January 05, 2015

Competitive People

And I saw that all labor and achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4

A friend has been dealing with a competitive peer and asked me how I deal with competitive people. 

I think we all have people in our lives who feel this life is a competition. They are constantly comparing where they are to where we are. They don't show a genuine desire in knowing us or being a part of what is going on in our life. They are checking in just long enough to see what we have but don't share any joy in our successes. They don't realize possessions and talents are to be used for God's glory and not self-elevation. 
The fact they get under our skin is really a reason to rejoice! God is using them to dig up things hidden in our spirit that need to be dealt with so we can be more like Him. 

If they feel very inadequate in their own lives, they will try to compare where there is no comparison. Your lives can be vastly different, and they will emphasize their strengths and your weaknesses. We are tempted to compensate by trying to find areas we are better than them. It can lead you into anger, frustration, boasting, pride, or discouragement. It will drain you and weaken the relationship.  

Here is how God lead me as a young mother to find rest and peace from competitive people: 

Disengage from the battle they are trying to draw you into by giving glory to the Lord for the object they are competing over. It takes humility to disengage because your flesh wants to jump to salvage your bruised pride. Don't allow yourself to be distracted. We can't obey the Lord's Word to encourage others when we are in competition against them. We certainly are not outdoing one another in honor or considering them better than ourselves. Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3

Instead of competeing, point them to the Lord as the source. Celebrate what God has done for them and redirect their thoughts. Trying to "one up" them will serve to elevate your pride, fuel their fire to be better than you, and may trigger the sin of envy. We aren't suppose to lead each other into sin. "One upping" each other isn't important. Honoring the Lord is. 

Daily cultivate an attitude of thankfulness and joy in the place God has you. If you are struggling with envy, ask Him to help you.  If we are truly grateful for what we have, envy has no foothold and we can break free from the spirit of competition.

Do you honestly think God is going to care who had the nicer car? or better brand of clothes? or has more popularity? or took more vacations? or amassed more knowledge? or experienced more adventures? had a better retirement? paid more or less? busier schedule? who works out the longest or has the hardest fitness routine? Do you think He wants you looking at what someone else is doing or obeying Him in ridding every defilement from the body and spirit to be a vessel for honorable use ready for every good work? (see: 2 Cor 7:1, 2 Tim 2:21) We get hung up on such trivial things when we are called for something much bigger! 

Dying to self is not easy. It feels like it costs us something, but in reality we make gains in our walk with the Lord. If you want a deep, personal relationship with the Lord, you have to cast off everything that gets in the way of that. Envy is a form of pride and leads to our downfall. Proverbs 29:23 One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.  

Once we grasp that all we have comes from the Lord and is to be used for His glory, we start boasting about what HE has done! We want to work joyfully with everyone we can to bring HIM the glory. Dying to self: life becomes more about Him and less about us!

That is how God led me when I was a young mother struggling with envy. I hope it blesses and encourages you. 

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30 

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?  I Corinthians 3:3

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. James 3:14-15

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. I Timothy 6:10

He said to them, You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight. Luke 16:15

All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Proverbs 16:2

I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve. Jeremiah 17:10

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. I Corinthians  13:4