Obsession with Competition (revisited 2012)

Obsession with Competition (revisited)
First published June 11, 2009. 

Robert Wurtz II

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:15)

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with them that do rejoice. This means we are to be happy for people when they are blessed in some way. This runs counter to modern popular culture. When was the last time you know of a person rejoicing with their neighbor when they came home blessed in a way that positioned the person on a higher economic or social plane? What about a ball game? When was the last time you saw a team get excited for the team that just beat them in the championship? Understand that the reason you don’t see this very often if ever is because the world is moving in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life (pleasure, possessions and popularity). Anything that contributes to that end is regarded as good by the world; but anything that pushes a person down in any of those areas is regarded as a bad thing. So when the neighbor gets a promotion and a new company car, etc., it is hard for a fellow laborer in this present world to rejoice with them. Why? Because they are competing with each other on these three levels. This is why Christians are told in Romans 12:1-2 not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If we think like the world we will never, rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:15) Why? because it is unnatural to be happy or sad for your competition. 

Battle in the Workplace

Every day in the West men and women get in their cars and go to ‘battle’. They go to battle on as many fronts as 24 hours in a day will allow for. The key behavior being this incessant desire to compete and be the victor. Many almost obsessively desire to reign in their circles as the man or woman with the nicest house, coolest car, most expensive and trendy clothes and jewelry, largest bass boat, nicest lawn, coolest motorcycle, latest Ipad, smart phone, nicest indoor furniture, patio furniture, grill, stainless steel appliances, digital front loader washer and dryer, 75 inch plasma or LCD 3D TV, Dolby surround sound stereo system, and any other gadget known to man that has the capability of ‘scoring’ high points in this battle. Anything a person can possibly use as leverage in this war is fair game. And these are just the material things. How many people have abused coworkers to gain favor with the boss? How many politicians have lied and kissed babies to go from a nobody to the mayor, governor or president? Teenagers and young adults mock themselves to scorn on programs like X-Factor or American Idol for a shot at being popular. The obsessions border on the occult at times. Who would want to be an ‘idol’ anyway? Many people work their whole lives looking for the most effective ways of exalting themselves over their neighbor. Again, how can we rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15) if we are moving in this worldly paradigm? 

Training the Kids to Fight

While the parents are fighting their neighbors on these fronts the kids are fighting their friends in the streets for bragging rights on who has the coolest car, loudest boom box, newest rims, fastest engine, coolest clothing, tattoos, piercings, best fade away jump shot, fastball pitch, swing, kick, throw, punch, dodge, leap, swim, fish, drive, ad infinitum. All of which began when little Billy got the first tricycle on the block or little Suzie got the coolest Barbie in the neighborhood. Maybe it was before that, when the parents insisted that at 3 years old the kid have their first $100 pair of Nike tennis shoes (Nike is Greek for victory). How could love possibly exist in this environment? How can anyone love their competitor? But this is the world mindset. This is why schools are such a harsh place for many kids to try to exist. The cruelty of kids can nearly scar a person for life. All so the person can jockey for position in this life and at nearly every age. 

Who is truly at peace with their neighbor?

Is there anywhere where this competition is not found? Is there any place where fallen man will not draw a line and commence a competition? From cradle to grave it seems to happen. Have we not heard it all? “We planned our kids while every one else’s were ‘accidents.'” or “My kid goes to the best school and gets the best grades.” or “My kid is on the honor society.” Then there are the stickers on the bumper; “Proud parent of a Principal Honor Roll student.” And if that were not enough, “My kid beat up your honor roll student!” “My kids are on the deans list.” or “My kid is first chair in the band or is the ‘star quarterback.’ My kid has an academic scholarship. My kid went to private school. My kid is going to Harvard; … oh, really? well mine is going to Oxford!” On and on and on. The madness is nearly enough to gag a person. How many kids have been destroyed by their parents working day and night to forge a child they can be proud of and boast about? Some kids have come to despair even of life because of it. How about this, how about lets just love them and seek God’s will for their lives

The battle for status

I submit to you that the primary reason people are not happy is because they are caught up in the spirit of competition that dominates their lives. They struggle to be happy because they are always reaching for something newer, better, cooler, more expensive, etc., and can never just be thankful for what they have and the state they are in. What an awesome thing it would be to simply stop competing with everyone in all these areas we have mentioned and simply rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:15) How can a person have compassion on their neighbor when he’s about to lose his house if he feels exalted because he has his paid on time? How can you weep for someone that are are competing against when their misfortune positions you higher than them in this world’s rat race? What use is it to bemoan the gang in the streets that wear red or blue and fight to the death- but wist not that they battle and fight and war – even soliciting God into the mix- praying for more and greater – why? That they may ‘consume’ these things on their own lusts. But lust for what? All that is in the world- simply, possessions, popularity and pleasure. God will not be a part of this fighting and warring. God is not going to bless a person so they can exalt themselves above their fellows. In this the spirit of this age is running utterly contrary to the Spirit of God and we must identify it when it tries to influence our lives. 

My talents and abilities as weapons in this war?

So when your on your way to work and get cut-off by that aggressive driver that’s hoping to get to work an hour early to get that extra overtime to get that larger check to buy that new gadget bigger than the neighbor he don’t like or the buddy that he heard through the grapevine- just bought; consider all this. Consider why it is so difficult to rejoice when someone is blessed. Ask yourself why there is such envy- such displeasure at the blessing of others? Could it not be because we have fallen victim in society to the popular culture that would rather see men and women fight in the afore mentioned battle fields than in the streets with their guns and fists? Was the BBC right when they suggested in the acclaimed video series, The Century of the Self. that these things have been fostered in order to control the dangerous crowd and the hostile forces that exist within fallen man? Can human nature be so depraved- that the masses have to be controlled in this way? This is a radical question to consider. 

Why many cannot rejoice at the blessing of their neighbor

We should ask ourselves, when was the last time I was happy that my neighbor got a better paying job than me? When was the last time that I wept when they lost their job and their home was foreclosed upon? What about if their child did well in school? If we struggle in these and similar areas there is a good chance that we are failing in Romans 12:2 and are allowing the world to press us into its mold. Born again believers have been delivered from the spirit of this age. The challenge to all of this is the ongoing spirit of competition that keeps us from feeling like we are all on ‘the same team’. Nobody gets excited when the competition succeeds. God never intended that we look upon each other as ‘competitors’. This is the worlds ways and it has profited the big corporations in the multiplied billions. What happens if we play the game? Everyone ends up on an island- not in the Spirit of the New Testament, but pressed into the mold of this wretched world (Romans 12:2). We lose the sense of love and compassion and rejoicing that God desires that we experience one for another. In all reality when a person suffers loss- there could actually be pleasant feelings because they are less of a threat. God deliver us from this brutal game that steals our love, compassion and joy. May men be transformed by the renewing of their minds having renounced love for this present evil world.    

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