” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Him and said to Him, Teacher, we desire You to do for us whatever we ask of You. And He replied to them, What do you desire Me to do for you? And they said to Him, Grant that we may sit , one on Your right hand, and one on Your left hand, in Your glory, (Majesty and Splendor). But Jesus said to them, You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism (of affliction) with which I am baptized? And they replied to Him, We are able. And Jesus told them, The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit at My right hand or at my My left hand is not Mine to give, but (it will be given to those) for whom it is ordained and prepared.” Mark 10:35-40 AMP
In the Greek there are two primary meanings of the word compete, or competition. One means strive or to out-do, the other relates to taking part (as an individual or team) in a competition. The first has a total focus on self – the other implies a desire for excellence to be the best, a leader, in a particular category. The latter could be a team with a business or athletic team, unified with a specific purpose. No stand-outs or rockstars, but a crew of souls rowing in the same direction to a rhythm that only they can hear.
In the above passage, the two disciples, James and John attempted to get the inside track on acquiring the most important real estate anywhere – the seats to the left and to the right of Christ Jesus. After all, isnt it always about location, location, location? What better location of power and authority could there be other than being seated in Heaven right next to Jesus Himself. Jesus informed James and John that these location decisions were not His to make but those of the Father. The Father is always the One that decides then orchestrates promotion, both then and now.
At times, I feel like I live in what must be the most competitive place on the earth. Where ‘for-no-reason’ competition abounds, including on the low end of the scale stomping the gas peddle when the light turns green to be first or racing below the yellow turning to red street light to be the last car through an intersection. These actions are irritating but the competition that I see among people is far more unsettling and a life disrupter of the highest order. A zero sum game with a goal that goes nowhere is to desire to be someone other than yourself. This seems to occur mostly in people (hate to say it but mostly women) that believe they have fallen short of a desired outcome for their life, or people going through a season of failure. There are a number of reasons why no one should succumb to the spirit of competition (envy).
It is the Holy Spirit that fashions and then enables specific gifts, skills and talents bestowed on each individual –
” All these (gifts, achievements, abilities) are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same (Holy) Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually (exactly) as He chooses. ” 1 Corinthians 12:11
Notice that the gifts, achievements and skills that one possesses are …. as He chooses. The Spirit of God Himself has designed each person with precision and in a way that He has desired them to be equipped and outfitted for life.
“And there are distinctive varieties of service and ministration, but it is the same Lord [ Who is served]. And there are distinctive varieties of operation (of working to accomplish things), but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the [ Holy] Spirit the (evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit) for good and profit. ” 1 Corinthians 12:6-7
If the Spirit of God, the exact source and force of power that hovered over the earth to form it ‘In the Beginning, has fashioned each person with very specific skills and gifts that are placed there to benefit them for both good and profit, why would people not focus on perfecting their own gifts ?
For it is the Holy Spirit Who knows the specifics of God’s plan and purposes (Romans 8:27-28). He also is the One that determines your assignment (Acts 13:2-4). Spending times of intimacy in prayer, reading God’s Word and listening are the best ways to get to know His plans and what He wants for your life, through what He has given you. What is magnificent, is that the God that created the Universe even has a specific plan and purpose for each life. Remarkable!
Yet there is one more crucial element to understand about your plan, purposes and giftings. It is Jesus.
Because of the completed work based on Jesus’ sacrifice, every person that embraces Him as their Savior can look “unto Him” with expectation of finishing well and being a success in the eyes of God. Your victories are based on the knowledge of what Jesus did for you, over and above your own natural abilities and certainly over the natural abilities of others. The natural is important – these are how God has equipped you – however they are less than the supernatural transformation and breakthrough that will come when focused on Jesus.
God can and will place you into position to utilize your greatest gifts, skills and talents and can suddenly, even supernaturally open doors on your behalf.
These open doors are ‘doorways of grace‘ that cannot be forced but swing from their hinge in the perfect time and pre-ordained season to utilize your gifts for higher purposes. (At times ,this means in other geographic areas for the purposes of “special forces”.) Your personal experiences are also very beneficial in the decisions of plans and life purposes. Many people have lived through serious difficulties and the successful navigation of these unique experiences can be used to minister to many that are currently walking that road.
There is danger in the distraction of remaining mentally focused on a perceived competitor – always looking to the left and the right, overly concerned about the abilities of another. Striving to always be in competition is very counter productive and is guaranteed to steer a person off course – away from God’s desired direction. This will sound too simplistic but focus on Jesus and let everything in the periphery fade to black. Keep Jesus in the forefront and concentrate on what He has given you to do – this is the way to win your race. When people feel that they are not where they should be or experience failure, the spirit of competition can creep in and steal or derail God’s best, veering the unsuspecting off course. Envy, listed as one of the 7 deadly sins, is the root cause of the spirit of unhealthy competition. It is critical to remain vigilant against this spirit.
There is no reason to envy the abilities of others when the Father has something just as wonderful for you. The purpose of these skills, gifts and abilities that are knitted into the fabric of each person by the Holy Spirit is for the use for service of others. If you are properly engaged in serving others, there simply is not enough time to look at anything else. Serve well friends, serve well.
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The Distraction that Destroys A Destiny
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Author: Doorways of Grace: My Uncommon Journey to Healing, Wholeness and Meeting Jesus
Available on Amazon and through Parson’s Porch
Related Article: The Assignment