No matter how great you are at something, there is always someone who is greater than you. No matter how successful you are, there is always going to be someone who is more successful than you.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you will have to deal with the success of others at one point or another.
How do we respond when others are more successful than us?
Man’s natural response is jealousy, resentment, and hatred, but that is not how Christians should respond. Rather, we should embrace, love, celebrate, and work alongside other Christians who are more successful.
While it is easy for us to say we should respond differently as Christians, it is hard to put that into practice.
How can respond in a Christian way to the success of others?
First, we must have a heart pierced by the gospel.
To respond in a Christian way requires that we be a person of faith. To be willing to promote and protect another, lending them our approval and prestige, requires a heart changed by the gospel.
Man’s natural response is not to promote another man over himself, nor is it to self-sacrificially love another. Only a heart that has been pierced by the gospel will do these things. Only a gospel changed heart will act in this way because only then can we imitate Jesus.
Jesus sacrificed Himself for the good of others. He esteemed man greater than Himself. Even while we were His enemies, Jesus did the unthinkable. He died on the cross for those who hated Him, for those who mocked Him, for those who did not love Him. He died so that we could have eternal life. All those who profess Him as Lord and Savior, He offers forgiveness.
So we see it takes a heart that has been pierced by the gospel to celebrate the success of others and promote another over ourselves.
The reason it takes a gospel pierced heart is because we can only imitate Jesus after we have been united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Second, we must be fully committed to God’s kingdom and glory.
Often we believe we have the right to be exalted, so we do all we can to make that happen. We fight and scratch and claw our way to the top and seek to get rid of anyone in our way. When others trump us, jealously ensues. Especially, when our praise is stolen.
Not only does the Bible testify to those actions, but the world reflects it. You only need to observe work politics for a short while to discover this truth.
If you think about it, however, only God has the right to be exalted. He is our Creator, and He alone is the all Powerful God of the universe. So we have to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on God in order to quench jealousy and envy.
We must be fully committed to God’s Kingdom and His glory.
Only then will we be willing to take the lesser position. To exalt another man over us, calling him greater. To surrender the rights we think we have. To push aside the idea of self-promotion, which leads to jealousy, envy, and disunity.
Third, we must realize envy, resentment, and hatred spring from worldly and selfish priorities.
Those that envy, resent, and hate another don’t care about God’s kingdom, nor do they care about God’s glory. All they care about is their kingdom, which is a worldly way of thinking and acting.
Thinking and acting that springs from a selfish heart.
When someone is better than us, accomplishing what we want to accomplish, we shouldn’t hate, resent, or envy them, because these actions spring from worldly and selfish priorities and are contrary to a gospel changed heart.
Fourth, we must fully trust God to provide.
One reason I believe people try to establish themselves over others is because they think that is the only way they are going to get ahead. They believe it is the only way they will get a promotion, or a job, and be able to provide for themselves or their family.
Thinking in that way shows that you don’t trust or depend on God to provide. Instead you are trusting and depending on yourself.
We must, however, fully trust God.
The Lord promises those who seek first His kingdom and His righteousness will have their needs met and need not worry.
Fifth, we must recognize and kill the idols of acceptance, approval, and success.
In order to kill the idols of acceptance, approval, and success, we must realize we already have the greatest approval and acceptance we could ever want – God’s.
If we don’t realize God’s approval and acceptance is all we need, we will be let down. As soon as another who is more successful than us comes along, others will naturally gravitate away from us toward them. The praise they once gave us, will be reserved for them.
You see, worldly success, approval, and acceptance is short lived.
The world’s praise may satisfy us for a season, but it will ultimately let us down. Not until we realize that, will we work to kill these idols.
Questions for Reflection
- How do you react when others are more successful than you?
- What would you add to my list of five?
Post adapted from my most recent sermon. You can listen here.