Still Your Competitive Spirit (Lent 9-2014)

As I’m writing, we just finished watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi and saw athletes representing nations and competing for gold, silver, and bronze medals.  Sometimes, there was good sportsmanship and it was congratulations all around for people doing their personal best.  Sometimes, like at the end of the men’s speed skating competition, there was a little attempt at grabbing at the person ahead to try to pull him back in order to gain position for oneself.  That’s considered unsportsmanlike.

Competitions can bring out the best and the worst in people.  When viewed as “a rising tide raises all ships” or each person inspiring another to his or her personal best, competition can be wonderful.  It’s the training that makes us all better.

But competition can be an enemy of stillness. 

Where are you LeahIt can turn into striving to be better than someone else.  Not just to do better and win, but we internalize it to being better.  By internalizing it—the competitive impulse for greater value and worth, the desire to gain position with God or with others, or the inner drive to beat someone arising from a selfish and jealous nature—all of these can drive a wedge between our hearts and stillness.

Such is the case with Leah.  She was given in marriage to Jacob when he had worked to secure her sister, Rachel.  As the older daughter, she was forced into a deception by her father Laban and from that point forward, she felt like the lesser wife of Jacob.  She felt unwanted.   Scripture says “Leah was not loved” and that “Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.”

Genesis 29:31 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

It wasn’t Leah’s fault that she was given in marriage to Jacob in a deceitful way.  Her reaction to the situation, however, showed that her motivations arose out of a competitive and jealous spirit.

Where are you, Leah?  Only after her fourth son, Judah, did she stop having children.  Only then does Scripture say in Genesis 29:35 “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘This time I will praise the LORD.’ So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.”  This time…I will praise the LORD.

Leah’s focus of the first 3 sons was human-centered, jealous, and competitive.  You can almost hear her taunting Rachel as a result of her fertility and Rachel’s infertility.  The fourth son finally prompted Leah to think about praising God.

Leah’s whole life was consumed with a competitive spirit and she missed out on the stillness of God so long as she competed for gold in the event called Old Testament Reproduction.

What about you?  Where are you?  What kind of competitive spirit do you have?

Be Still.  Take time to remember Who is the giver of all good things and how I desire to do good to all people.  Here’s what My Word says to you:  “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

Be Still. Don’t compare yourself to others.  I love them too.

Be Still and Know that I AM God.  I want you to take your eyes off of you and off of them.  Instead, look to Me to be your very best.  I AM the reward at the end of the race.

Questions for reflection:

  1. What types of life events bring out your competitive spirit?
  2. What kind of competitive spirit do you have: one that seeks to raise all ships or one that seeks to be the best?
  3. How does this verse point to stillness?  Philippians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.


Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 14, 2014

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