Worship Times

Sundays    10:30 a.m.
                    4:00 p.m.

Today's Verse

Companions Or Competitors?

by Mark Grant

In Genesis the thirteenth chapter we read where the herdsmen of Abram and Lot started to compete and quarrel over pastureland for their flocks (Gen. 13:6). Even though hostile neighbors surrounded them, the herdsmen of Abram and Lot had no desire to work together as brethren (Gen. 13:7). Instead, they let petty jealousy tear them apart (Gen. 13:8-9). Unfortunately, similar situations exist today in congregations where Christians are always striving with one another in a kind of continual rivalry while Satan is at work all around them. Competition can be healthy in the worlds of business and athletics. It becomes detrimental, however, when a person’s attitudes and actions become viciously self-serving. Such competition should have no place in the Lord’s church. That is why Jesus prayed to God that His followers be “one” (John 17:20-21).

It was the disciples of Jesus who were constantly arguing and bickering about who was the greatest (Matt. 18:1-4; Mark 9:33-37). But Jesus described leadership from a new perspective. Greatness in the view of men has always been different than the view of greatness in the sight of God. Instead of striving to be masters, we are to be slaves. “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:25-28; NKJV). A real leader in Jesus’ Kingdom is not one who fights over what rank or status that he can gain, but one who has a servant’s heart. A genuine leader does not compete for recognition or the highest position, but seeks to serve others no matter how demeaning the job may be. A true leader for Jesus Christ is one who seeks to serve others and not one who just wants to dominate. On the night after the feast of the Passover had ended, Jesus Himself took the position of a slave and began to wash the feet of all of the disciples, including Judus Iscariot (John 13:2-5). Jesus’ action was done to set forth the example of selfless service and He promises that we will be blessed if we live as He lived (John 13:12-17). You can approach living the Christian life by expecting to be served, or you can look for opportunities to serve others.

When someone starts complaining about people in the church who always try to run things, a competitive spirit may be at the heart of the problem. In Numbers the sixteenth chapter it was Korah who apparently resented the fact that the family of Aaron should have exclusive right to the priesthood and led a rebellion against Moses (Num. 16:1-3). In the end, however, his ambition for more caused him to lose everything (Num. 16:18-35). A selfish attitude will always cause dissension, resentment, combativeness, and division within a congregation. And it will never go away on its own by deliberately ignoring it. It will simply fester and ruin a congregation--along with its chances of ever reaching its potential. “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” (Prov. 17”14; NKJV).

Struggles with forces outside the church can be hard enough, but struggles within a church can be devastating. John wrote a letter in response to one such struggle within a local congregation. “9I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church” (3 John 9; NKJV). All we know about Diotrephes is that he wanted to control the church out of his own personal ambition. He had become a virtual dictator in the assembly. Diotrephes had forgotten that Christ is the head of the church (Col. 1:18), and that God never intended for one man to rule a congregation. No mere man has the right to take charge, to make decisions, to receive, or to refuse in a congregation on his own. Diotrephes’ sins were of pride, of violent jealousy, and of slander, and these are frequently found together. Sins such as pride, jealousy, and slander are still present in the church, and when a leader makes a habit of encouraging sin and discouraging right actions, he must be stopped. A true Christian leader is a servant, not a dictator!

The apostle John introduced himself as a brother and saw his fellow believers as companions, not competitors. “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9; NKJV). John was a brother and a companion because he shared the common calling in Christ with all Christians, and he was like them in that he was patiently bearing tribulation for his loyalty to God’s Kingdom. All Christians, men and women, are members of God’s family and serve Jesus as co-workers in the greatest of all enterprises. “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1; NKJV). We are fellow-workers who belong to God and are suppose to be working with one another while here upon this earth. Companions, and not competitors, are what Christ wants us to be!