Every believer should be content with the function within the body of Christ God has placed him. And God is pleased when we serve him with joy in every activity or ministry that we engage in for the sake of the body.
What the devil does is bring misunderstanding and deception to the body of Christ, and then carnality, strife, envy, and division, so that many will not receive God appointed and God sent apostles and prophets, and shepherds, and voices Jesus has given to us as gifts (Eph. 4:11). They find fault and criticize such honorable vessels (not all are honorable) and fail to receive from them. I’ve heard Christians call God appointed and chosen ministry gifts “heretics” and “charlatans”. They act like spiritual policemen with their pride filled opinions. These people are foolish and greatly deceived. It’s the devil’s delight to keep members of the Lord’s body deceived and divided like that.
IMAGINE THE LOSS OF THOSE WHO DID NOT RECEIVE PAUL AS AN APOSTLE
God gave Paul as an apostolic gift to the Early Church. Imagine the loss to those who did not receive him. God appointed him and anointed him supernaturally with visions and revelations that the Church was built upon. What a gift! Later on in his apostolic ministry the adversary brought in a sectarian spirit as the Corinthians began to play favorites.
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor. 3:1-8).
“Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:12-13)
Is this sort of envy, strife, carnality and sectarianism still a part of the body of Christ today? Unfortunately, it is, and perhaps worse than it’s ever been!
DON’T COMPETE OR COMPARE
Too many Christians and ministers compete instead of conform to the Word of God, His nature, and the unity of the Spirit. They try to stick out instead of blend in. They try to extend their own sphere of influence far beyond what God has ordained for them. They get envious and jealous of the greater influence of others and they strive to expand their own influence beyond the scope of what God has ordained. They do this through much striving, pushing and promoting, and marketing efforts instead of receiving from the greater and staying content in their place. This is a corporate America mentality. It’s the culture of the world that is individualistic and self-centered instead of pluralistic and cruciform, which is this:
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
That is the golden verse that would bring such unity among the body of Christ if divine love ruled our hearts and every member applied this verse to their souls.
OUR PERSONAL MISSIONARY EXAMPLE
This competitive spirit born of jealousy, envy, and selfish ambition is all too common in the ministry today even among leaders, who are supposed to set the example. It happened to us on the mission field.
Our young apostolic team had a calling and commission to establish interdenominational Bible Training Centers to the entire body of Christ in the nations we served in, but soon after, when pastors became filled with envy and jealousy, they started their own schools, so their own people wouldn’t go to ours. As I stated, such immaturity cannot be a leader of God’s people. As a leader, you are called to help people find God’s will for their lives, not your own will for them. Big difference.
These impure motivations are what causes strife and competition in the Church and divides the body of Christ and hinders the work of God from advancing in a more accelerated manner.
Why would any ministry leader want to attempt to start a church or a work of any kind without the commission from the Lord to do so? It will fail because they simply don’t have the grace, maturity, and anointing to do it, but they want a following.
“Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30).
“For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:21).
We’ve got to learn to rejoice in the grace and calling and influence of others without craving the same measure for ourselves. I’m at an age where I absolutely love to help others excel in their grace and ministry calling. There are young men that I taught in Bible school long ago whose sphere of influence is now far greater than mine. I rejoice in that, for they are my crown and joy, and I feel privileged to have had a small part in their lives and ministries. The same is true with some of my peers. There is no striving in me to be as influential as them. I am so content and fulfilled doing what the Lord has called me and my wife to do that I have no time to compare myself with others.
Comparison is a huge problem among ministers and pastors. It genders strife and discontentment among many and diffuses the anointing the Lord has given you. When you wrongly covet the influence and anointing of others you kill your own. Stop feeling like a failure. The way you deal with this is through prayer and the love of God, and serving, honoring, and preferring others before yourself. Seek to possess a servant’s heart at all times, and not just talk about it.
“And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them