Definition: Behavior motivated by a desire to prove oneself superior in any given contest, endeavor or field.
1. Competitiveness is considered a virtue in the world, but not with the Lord!
* Luke 22:24-26 And there was also a strife among them [Jesus' disciples], which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And He said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. [See also Matthew 20:26-28; Mark 9:34,35; Luke 9:46.]
* Mark 9:33b-35 [Jesus] asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
* 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 [The Lord doesn't go by worldly "strengths" or abilities.] 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in His presence.
* 1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
[See also Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 9:46-48.]
2. Those who compete toward worldly goals are motivated by a false sense of values.
* Jeremiah 9:23,24 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
* 1 Corinthians And every man that striveth for the mastery [runs in a race] is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible [temporal worldly] crown; but we an incorruptible.
* 1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise [such as competitive sports] profiteth little: but Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
3. Carnal competitiveness is self-exaltation, born of pride; the Lord won't bless it.
* 2 Chronicles 26:16a But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction.
* Obadiah 1:3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee ... that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
* Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.
* Matthew And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
4. Worldly competitiveness is not part of the loving, Christ-like nature.
* 1 Corinthians 13:4 [Love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; [love] vaunteth not itself [doesn't brag], is not puffed up.
* Romans Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.
* Romans 15:1,3a We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 3a For even Christ pleased not Himself.
* Galatians Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
* Philippians 2:3,4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5. Competitiveness can be divisive and a tool of the Devil.
* 2 Corinthians For we dare not make ourselves of the number [classify ourselves], or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
* James 3:14-16 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
[See also Cliques, #2, page 130.]
6. Godly ambition and/or competition, with the motive of doing our best for His glory, not our own, is commendable.
* Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
* Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
* Romans 11:13,14 [Paul spoke often of his ministry to the Gentiles in order to provoke his fellow Jews to godly jealousy:] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
* 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 [Paul encourages us to run the race to win a Heavenly crown for faithfulness in serving the Lord:] Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [the worldly] do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
* 2 Timothy 2:5 [Anyone seeking to excel in the Lord's work needs to go about it the right way:] And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
* 2 Corinthians 9:2b [Paul mentioned to the Achaians that he bragged about them to others because of their willingness to help the work, saying:] Your zeal hath provoked [stirred up] very many.
* Hebrews And let us consider one another to provoke [stir one another up] unto love and to good works.
7. Christians are to strive toward spiritual goals.
* Philippians 1:27b Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.
* Philippians 2:14,16 Do all things without … disputings.… 16 Holding forth the Word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
* Philippians I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [See also Luke 16:16.]
* 2 Timothy 4:7,8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.
* Hebrews 12:1,2a Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2a Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.
* Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. [See also Revelation 12:11.]
8. Our competition is primarily confined to the spiritual realm, contending with our opponents the Devil and the world, over whom we shall prevail.
* Ephesians For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
* 2 Corinthians 10:3,4 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.)
* 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on Eternal Life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
* 1 Peter 5:8,9a Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9a Whom resist stedfast in the faith.
* Romans In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
* 1 John 5:4,5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?