One of the driving forces of human nature is competition. I simply have to watch my children squabbling over their test scores without any regard for their differences in grade or ability to see what an early age we start ingraining the need to outdo one another into our thoughts and motivations. Our language has even developed in such a way as to enable our comparisons: it’s not simply good enough to be wealthy but one can be wealthier than another and, if truly blessed, the wealthiest of us all.
Smart, smarter, smartest;
successful, more successful, most successful,
pretty, prettier, prettiest … these are the patterns that govern not only our speech, but our lives.
No wonder life is, for many of us, an unfulfilling, exhausting experience. No wonder the abundance and prosperity God promises us seems to be like a distant dream instead of a present experience. No wonder heaven becomes the goal that we set our eyes on longingly in an effort to escape the daily grind.
Our Scriptures (Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37) this week invite us to examine the standards by which we are evaluating ourselves and others. What are the things that bring you joy and a deep sense of satisfaction? What are the gifts on offer to you in the relationships that you have? What are the gifts that you have to offer? What are the sins – the ingrained habits, the negative thoughts, the possessive desires – that hold you back and drain you? What are the judgements and grudges and expectations that limit your potential to give and receive love? How do you define happiness, success, prosperity, promise and have these definitions hurt or helped you?
God longs for us to know the fullness of life. We know that. Do we, however, long for the kind of life God promises – a life of community and harmony, of servanthood and sound morals? Or are we looking for the life in which we are the winner of every competition?