Jesus Left the Competition

Jesus Left the Competition

“Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that He and John performed (although His disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning Him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.” -John 4:1, The Message

Is competition biblical? In a hurried world where results equal promotion and accolade, it is so easy to get our eyes off where our central focus should be: Jesus. Yes it is right to work diligently and wholeheartedly (Proverbs 12:27), yes it is good to excel and be faithful (Luke 19:17) – but is it okay to be competitive?

In the Bible there is no mention of the word “competition”, but there is mention of the word “comparison”: “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Galatians 6:4)

We can gather from Jesus’ example that He competed with no one. The moment it was suggested that someone was keeping score, Jesus left the playing field entirely.

I remember being a kid in elementary school being put up to the challenge of who could complete the Hooked on Phonics book first. I was definitely up for it, (English was my strong suit), so I worked hard to get the book done before anybody else. It was down to me and the last guy, and I remember staying up late one night to finish it. I was excited to bring that phonics book in complete that day and win the contest. But even though I won, the truth is, it didn’t add anything to my value as a person.

Having a challenge or contest is not wrong, and neither are sports. But when we begin to operate in striving, when our worth becomes tied to our performance – we can miss God’s love completely. Everything we receive comes from Him, not through our own human efforts. (2 Corinthians 3:5) We have to be careful to check our motives and listen to His heart for us and on behalf of others.

Is there anything you may need to adjust in your life to help you keep the right focus? We don’t need to be bound to performance – instead, we need a greater revelation of God’s love for us, being led by His Spirit, and trust in Him that He will provide for all of our needs.

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