The month of love!
I can’t let this month come and go without writing something about love, so write I shall. But not about the heart eyes and gooey feelings of being in love.
That’s all fine and good (and I absolutely love being in love), but I want to talk about love in the form of community. The kind of community that goes beyond friendship. The kind of community that is born from the Biblical commandment to love.
Romans 12 is full of little gems that speak to the nature of community found in God’s Kingdom.
Verse 5 says, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
In verse 9, we find “Let love be without dissimulation.” Or, to put it more plainly, let love be without pretense. And 10 says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”
Verse 15 reminds us to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
True community can be hard to come by in a culture driven by competition. A culture that praises success in one moment and seeks to dethrone in the next.
This spirit of competition is not unfamiliar to us. Even in the church. And as women, we may be a little more susceptible to its influence.
Competition in Latin means to conspire together. It’s an ideal of synergy, that two competing can accomplish more than two in isolation, as each push the other to get better.
But, in relationships with each other, competition is poisonous. It infects, injures, and eventually kills the love that, at one time, was healthy and pure. And, bitterness is the sour substitute that replaces it.
Perhaps that is why Jesus rebuked Peter when he became competitive over the future of other disciples – “When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22)
Competition can cause one to look down on another for a variety of reasons. Maybe they feel they are prettier, more fashionable, more talented, and the list goes on. This feeling of superiority is based on pride, and is detestable to God.
When we think ourselves superior, what we are really thinking is that we are better than one of God’s creations. That somehow our filthy rags of righteousness turn into glowing robes compared to their filthy rags of righteousness.
If our appreciation for our brothers and sisters is based on how well they measure up to us, we become the object of perfection. We become the ruler all others must be measured by. And, if others must measure up in order to be appreciated, our love is based on their merits, not on the fact that we are both created in the image of God.
It doesn’t matter how good your Instagram feed is, we’re all wretches compared to God.
And, there’s a flip side to that coin as well.
When we compare ourselves to others and find we’re inferior, what we’re really saying is that God has created an inferior product. When we feel bad about ourselves because we aren’t as talented or pretty as someone else, we’re telling God that His creation is sub-par based on our ideals of beauty or talent.
I promise you, our ideas of beauty and talent are far different from God’s.
He has crowned you with glory and honor, Psalms 8 says. What kind of appreciation are you showing God by disliking His creation.
When you look on yourself as somehow inferior because of all the things you would change about yourself, you’re robbing God of the glory He can get from you, His creation.
God’s plan for you is not dependent on His plan for anyone else. And, He created you exactly that way on purpose. He doesn’t do anything by chance.
Everything that you dislike about yourself, He did it on purpose.
Think about that.
And, most of the things we dislike about ourselves is based on the idea that someone else is better. It’s our ideals. And, they are only vain thoughts in our head.
We’re not in competition!
We’re all beautiful!
We’re all talented!
We are all loveable, just the way we are!
It’s competition that makes us unhappy with God’s creation–unhappy with ourselves.
Rather than feeling superior to that person, we should be embracing them. Rather than feeling inferior to the other person, we should appreciate them. And vice versa.
Please don’t let your feelings of inferiority keep you from doing great things for God.
Please don’t let your feelings of superiority make you feel entitled, which will keep you from doing great things for God.
God has called us to something greater and bigger than competition.
He’s called us to be a part of His Kingdom, His family… Community. And as a community, we can accomplish so much more than we can on our own.
Instead of looking at someone as a rival, we should link arms with her and strengthen the community and Kingdom of God.
Everyday, when we wake up, we get to choose whether or not we will pursue community or competition.
We can choose to celebrate with someone in her success, knowing that God has not forgotten us, knowing that another sister’s success is all for His Kingdom.
We can choose to leave behind fear, selfishness, insecurities, and whatever else feeds that spirit of competition, and embrace community.
What a beautiful way to love one another.
Love doesn’t compete or think “what about me?”.
Love isn’t self-centered.
Love encourages, uplifts, rejoices, prefers others…
Love chooses community over competition.