WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 21, 2021
TOPIC: DON’T COMPETE WITH ANYONE
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6 New Living Translation).
It was in October 1995. We had looked forward to our next mission, having travelled by road for some kilometers and lodged at a guest house. Men and women of different ages, everyone was ready. It was not compulsory. But it would be a memorable experience.
The target was 2, 285 metres (7,497ft) high. We were to climb this mountain. People do it nearly every day. Tour guides were around to lead and encourage us. We took off and everyone went at his/her pace.
I was determined to make it and climb the mountain to the summit. In this kind of situation, it wasn’t wise to exhaust yourself by trying to climb fast. It was more challenging than running a marathon. In any case, there was no competition. The important thing was to get to the top of Mount Sinai, which has at its foot, a monastery, the Monastery of St. Catherine.
There were two pilgrims, a man and a lady; I had seen their faces often in the course of our visit to other sites. I saw them again. They were also climbing to the summit. But they seemed to have an advantage the way they climbed. It was as if they had been there before or they were used to it.
I could understand the courage of the man but I couldn’t understand where the lady got her strength and experience. The lady was not the only lady in the group but she was different. She climbed as if it wasn’t a challenge. If you were a man and wanted to stop, this lady’s effort would challenge you.
After hours of climbing, the man and the lady got to the summit of the mountain. I did too. Others did. Some pilgrims chose to climb the mountain on the back of a carmel up to a point and climbed the rest on foot. They got to the summit. Mount Sinai is located in Egypt. But there is no proof that the site is the same biblical Mount Sinai also known as Mount Horeb where Moses heard God speaking through the burning bush and where he received the tablets of the Law from God, the Ten Commandments. Nevertheless, pilgrims visit there as one of the biblical sites.
There is a small chapel at the top of the mountain. We prayed and after a while, we descended. Of course, you know that would be easier than climbing up. Why am I telling this story? The pilgrimage is not my focus. You may have more details about Mount Sinai than I do or you could have been there multiple times.
My message is about competition. You don’t need to compete with anyone except it’s a competition. You may be in the same business, living in the same street, worshipping in the same church, etc. but you don’t need to compete with them. One of the reasons you shouldn’t compete with people is that you don’t know them. You don’t know where they are coming from. You don’t know the resources they have. You don’t know the training they have received. You don’t know their story. Where you see them now is not all about them. They are different from you in some ways.
I discover later that the lady-pilgrim whose climbing of the mountain was different and motivated me was a military officer! She was a soldier, a serving soldier! The man with him was a soldier, too – still in service. I was a civilian. I had never been in the Man o’ War! The last endurance trek I did then was during the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Scheme. I never did any sport. The training of a soldier prepared this lady for the challenge of climbing Mount Sinai more easily than a civilian.
Those who made it to the peak got there at different times. But we all made it and each eventually received a certificate that says he/she had climbed to the summit of Mount Sinai where Moses “went up to God” and received the Ten Commandments, had prayed in the monastery of St. Catherine, drunk from the well of Moses and visited the traditional site of the burning bush. This was different from the certificate we were given at the end of the pilgrimage.
Each pilgrim didn’t have to insist that he/she must get to the top ahead of another or to stop climbing because someone had gone ahead of him/her. Everybody went at his pace. Of course, we drew encouragement from one another. There are some similarities between this incidence and life.
Many people have frustrated themselves in life because of competition. If you meet a professional sportsperson jogging in the morning but you’re just jogging to keep fit, it’s foolish to compete with him. That someone is a lady and you’re a man doesn’t mean you should compete with her in an area where she has some training and you don’t. Run at your pace. Run your race, not another person’s race.
That person you’re competing with, in business, may not be at the same level as you. If you have enough information about him/her, his/her capital, sponsors, and antecedents, you will change your mind and probably approach him/her for mentoring and stop trying to compete with him/her. Ignorantly, some compete with those who should be their mentor or adviser. Some even take as enemies those who should be their motivators or helpers.
Don’t always see life as a competition between you and others. Focus on God’s assignment for you. Develop yourself; use the resources God has given you. Be patient with yourself. Realize that you may not have what another person has. You may not have the training, experience, finances, family background, contacts, etc. But that does not mean that you should have a defeatist mentality and resign to fate. Rather, you should look from where you are; run your race; stay in your lane. Don’t compete with others.
Imagine a pastor who started a church from the scratch, without any member or partner, trying to compete with another pastor who broke away from another church, taking with him a large number of members of his former church to start his church. He may frustrate himself. God knows that the other pastor broke away. What he sows, he will reap (Galatians 6:7). The pastor who didn’t break away with his former members to start a new church must be patient. Growth, including numerical growth, takes time.
Others may motivate you, but the only person you should compete with is yourself. Don’t compete with or compare yourself with anyone. God may not have given you what He has given others and vice versa. This applies to the ministry and every other life endeavour. Paul understood this as regards the ministry and talked a lot about the place of grace in his ministry and ministry generally.
He said in Romans 12:6-8, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (New King James Version). In other words, everyone should face his/her assignment. Nobody should compete with another.
Earlier in verse 3, he said, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (New King James Version). The New Living Translation says you should be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Don’t compete with others. Use what God has given you.
Paul knew the grace God had given him. He said according to the grace of God which was given to him, as a wise master builder he had laid the foundation, and others were building on it, but each one should take heed how he built on it (1 Corinthians 3:10). These are two different assignments: laying the foundation and building on it. He knew the grace God gave him was to minister to the gentiles (Romans 15:15-16). Even if the Lord had given another person that assignment, it was useless to compete with him as some did.
Hear Paul: “Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know the Lord brought me here to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But whether or not their motives are pure, the fact remains that the message about Christ is being preached, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice (Philippians 1:15-18 New Living Translation).
Don’t compete with others out of envy. The reason you should succeed is not because of anyone’s success. Be your best. “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6 New Living Translation).
Paul said by the grace of God, he was what he was and His grace toward him was not in vain. He said he laboured more abundantly than the other apostles, yet not him. He said that it was not him, but the grace of God which was with him (1 Corinthians 15:10). Recognize that God has given us difference graces. Others are different from you. Live and enjoy your life. Don’t compete with others.
Paul said in Galatians 6:4, “Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else” (New Living Translation).
He said further, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 New King James Version).
Don’t compete with anyone. Understanding there was no need to compete with Jesus, John the Baptist said, “God in heaven appoints each person’s work. You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for him – that is all. The bride will go where the bridegroom is. A bridegroom’s friend rejoices with him. I am the bridegroom’s friend, and I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:27-30 New Living Translation).
Don’t compete with anyone except it is a competition. Run your race. Face your assignment. Use the resources God has given you, including spiritual and material. Learn from others. Let them be a blessing to you and be a blessing to them, too.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I shall run my race, not another person’s race. I shall not compete with anyone in Jesus’ name. I reject the spirit of competitive jealousy. Holy Spirit, help me to walk in love towards others and not see them as my competitors.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947