Religious Competition

by Mar 13, 2024Devotional3 comments

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not value or compare ourselves against those who flaunt themselves, for those among them who compare themselves are not wise.

The Sermon on the Mount expressly addresses the ways humanity can and does corrupt religion. Jesus points out the importance of keeping our relationship with God intimately personal. Not to turn our relationship with the Almighty into a religious competition for worldwide viewing and bragging rights of self-righteousness. Matt. 5:20 But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! Jesus was saying, “Don’t be like the hypocrites or the scribes and Pharisees who make a point of their whole religious existence as something to impress and be seen by the public. Stop trying to out-righteous one another with open exhibitions of ritual activities that have no bearing on what God calls righteousness.”

Matthew chapter 23 is an account of Jesus exposing the hypocrisies of the Pharisees, Scribes, Herodians, Sadducees and religious leaders who were taking part in and practising religious zeal. The act of serving God had become a competition of who could out-righteous who on the big stage of godliness. The Lord shows us that this misguided zeal is not of God. This demonstration of self-righteousness creates arguments and bitterness which eventually develops into an us and them social order. Luke 18:10  Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. In this case, the them was the tax collector.

History demonstrates that the wars that have been fought over religion have been nonstop since the beginning of time. I’m not going to take time to talk about the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the Holocaust, but in my lifetime the Communist Red Guards persecuted many Christians and destroyed churches in the late 1950s. We also had the Catholics and the Protestants blowing each other up in the early 1970s to the 1990s in Northern Ireland. We quaintly call that period of religious history The Troubles. Within the last few years, many of the Muslim nations have been at odds with the rest of the world and the conflict for religious supremacy is killing thousands. The casualties in all this warfare are the children, the elderly, and civilians who want peace in their lifetime. No one is winning the religious competitions because it is not what God wants of us.

James points out what pure religion is. This might be the place to start exercising what God wants. James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. In another verse, God says this is the thing to do. Micha 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? There is a lot of elbow room in this area of service in God’s Kingdom. Not many are jostling to be first up in taking care, being kind, and walking humbly toward orphans, and widows while staying unpolluted by the world. The Lord wants us to have a relationship with Him so that we have an understanding of how to love each other. Only in Christ can this miracle take place, otherwise, religion on its own becomes an arena of competition.

When we walk circumspectly before our God and hear His voice leading us, we will not have time to compare ourselves with others and get involved with the religious competitions of the day. 2Cor. 10:12 For we dare not value or compare ourselves against those who flaunt themselves, for those among them who compare themselves are not wise. When we are together in eternity, I don’t think we will be trying to outshine each other with the rewards God gave us. I am sure we will be genuinely full of joy toward each other for the reason that through Christ we were all redeemed and found our way home. The love that we will express for God and our fellow man will all be because of the sacrifice that Jesus gave of Himself and not the religion we practice on earth. If this is going to be the eternal outcome, then why not put away the limitations we create through our fears? Let us love one another now as the Holy Spirit leads. We need not compete with each other for the love of God, We already have it. Blessings.

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. So good. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Once again, Pastor, you make some good points.

    Reply
    • Thank you, and blessings to you Larry.

      Reply

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