Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Vanity of Rivalry

As we start this New Year, we often make new resolutions about ourselves. We want to eat better, exercise more, read the Bible more consistently. This is good but it sometimes leads to increased guilt and shame because we set ourselves up for failure. But we are made to imitate and the Bible even calls us to imitation. Imitate me, Paul said, as I imitate Christ. So, it is good to find a model and seek to improve, physically, sure, but much more importantly, learning to be like Jesus.
         What is the essence of Christlikeness? Service. The Lord was a servant. We talk a lot about this but sometimes struggle to convey what we really mean. I want to suggest that the heart of all antichrist behavior is some level of rivalry. The devil was a rival of God and set this satanic theme in motion in the world. Cain killed Abel and the wicked have mocked the faithful ever since. But even brothers rival brothers. Jesus brothers mocked Him. The apostles jostled for position against one another. Peter even had the audacity to seek to put Jesus in His place and Jesus called him Satan.
         So, imitate the righteous but do not allow yourself to compete with the righteous for gain, recognition, power, prestige, perceived spiritual maturity, authority in God’s Kingdom, or influence in the world. Jesus served, even unto death and the Lord highly exalted Him. That should be our goal, exaltation from the Father. But in order to get that, we must humble ourselves before Him and His Saints. Rivalries are futile because they are satanic. They birth bitterness, revenge, spite, strife, division, and murder. Let us choose rather to serve.

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