And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. ~Mark 9:33-34
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are home to sports team rivalries. There is the college football, basketball and baseball rivalry between U.C. Berkeley and Stanford. There is the professional football team rivalry between the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. Then, there is the professional baseball team rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s. These rivalries bring out a competitive and fun spirit from both sides. Rivalries are sometimes described as “dog-eat-dog.” They can become so fiercely competitive that both sides will go to extremes to decisively edge out the other. This morning, we are considering a rivalry that never leads to any good. This is the rivalry between believers.
There is the carnal REASON. The underlying reason behind rivalries is pride. “Only by pride cometh contention.” It is fueled by a spirit of envy and jealousy that someone else has something we do not have, or that the other person has an advantage on us. Our fleshly spirit does not enjoy being taken advantage of or being one-upped by another person. The disciples were privately competing among each other as to who was the greatest among them. Each of them thought they were better than the others. They were fighting as to who should be in charge. All rivalries are competitive wars for power.
There is the contentious RIFT. Whenever there is a rivalry, relationships are sorely strained. Good friends become bitter enemies. If one person throws a barb at the other, then the other retaliates with a similar barb. Jesus asked the disciples, “What is it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?” As we consider the context of Mark 9, Peter, Andrew, and John were posturing themselves as being “special” because Jesus took them to the top of the mount. The other nine disciples were arguing as to who was right and who was wrong regarding the demon-possessed boy. Instead of realizing all of them had issues, there was a divisive tension among them. All rivalries result in rift.
There is the causeless REPERCUSSION. All rivalries lead to damage that can be hurtful. Friendships are strained. Bitterness springs up. People take sides. Church or family splits can occur. Worst, the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ is soiled and damaged. Unbelievers see this strife as a stumblingblock that prevents them from getting saved. Instead of working together to accomplish more for the Lord, the work of Christ is hindered and in some cases set back.
There is the curative REMEDY. James puts his finger on this problem by telling us: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” We must realize that this is a sin that must be confessed to God. There must be a spirit of humility in us where we esteem others better than ourselves. Then, we must determine to do all things without murmuring and strife. We should determine to rejoice in every accomplishment and victory that others have, and not allow a spirit of jealousy or envy to come between us.
Let us be careful of falling victim to a dog-eat-dog spirit with other believers, especially believers with whom we attend church. Let us not look every man on his own things, but look upon the needs of others. Let us die to self when it comes to our gain, and lift up the Lord whenever others are blessed.
Have a humbled God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Deuteronomy 17-20