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August 22, 2022

Rivalry in the Body of Christ Dishonors the Lord

By Chuck Hetzler, PhD, Director, CU Day and Night

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?  – 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

All jealousy, pride, rivalry, and division must be repented of and put at the foot of the cross or Christian Unity will not be achieved. 

Rivalry in the body of Christ dishonors the Lord. Jesus died for the church to be a set-apart people who would amaze the world with our love for one another. When we harbor feelings of jealousy and create divisions within the body of Christ, we grieve the Lord and work against His own fervent prayer that His people be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21). It dishonors the Lord to have a divisive spirit.

No Rivalry


Factions among Christians also dismember the body of Christ (1 Cor 1:13). Some of the most harm done to the work of Christ comes not from atheists or unbelievers, but from within the Church when we hold on to hurts and divide brothers and sisters against one another. All Christians, especially leaders in the church, must put to death all temptations of jealousy, division, and territorialism toward other ministers and ministries. Jealousy was the sin that killed Jesus (Matthew 27:18). Paul was persecuted because of jealousy (Acts 17:5). Every pastor and layperson is to love and bless other ministers, ministries, and Christians, and must repent of jealousy or territorialism at every instance when it rears its head. Christians may be envious of others for all kinds of reasons, including wealth, looks, status, and on and on. Whatever the cause of rivalry in our hearts, let us be watchful for it, weed such divisive attitudes from our hearts, and cultivate brotherly affection for all in the household of God.

Rivalry stunts our personal, individual spiritual growth. Paul said the divided Corinthians were “infants in Christ” and “people of the flesh” or “carnal.” He longed to see them press ahead toward Christian maturity, to be more like Jesus, but they could not do so because of their jealousy and divisiveness. Many Christians feel stuck in their relationship with God and their effectiveness for Him and don’t realize that it is because they need to repent of jealousy and divisiveness.

It is natural for us as fallen humans to envy one another, but we have the power of His Spirit in us to live according to the ways of God and not indulge our sinful desires. We can bless instead of curse. We can return love for hatred. We can celebrate the blessings of others, knowing that our Father has enough love to go around for each and every one of His children. 

Let’s take a few moments now to rid our hearts and minds of all jealousy, division, and rivalry.

Dear Father, bring to mind any way in the past or present that I have sowed and/or tolerated division among Christians. I repent now of each one of those instances and attitudes, ______________. Thank You that You love a broken and contrite heart. Thank You for bringing these things to my attention so that I can be cleansed and restored. Empower me to be a peacemaker and protect the unity of Your body so that the world would know Your Son, the Savior of the world.