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…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3 NKJV

Our unity in Christ is based around the reality that every born again one has the full measure of the Spirit of Christ in them. Building unity on anything else is soulish and doomed to fail. Christianity historically has tried to build unity around doctrine( even to the point of fighting wars over it ) which is impossible, which we will see in a minute. Doctrinal presentations serve us well when they lead us to glorify God and understand the centrality of Jesus Christ, but they are not the basis for unity. Why?

…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7 NKJV

When one is born again, they instantly enter the school of the Holy Spirit where Christ is the Master Teacher. His lessons purposed towards growing up the new one into the fullness of Christ, start at the new birth and are not completed until the ages to come, far beyond the physical life of the born again one. Each lesson is tailored individually, as only One with a perfect understanding of the student can tailor a lesson. Each lesson imparts a measure of the multi-variegated wisdom of God as each one is able to receive. This results in the reality of each born again one has a unique journey to the fullness of Christ.

Without perfect conformity of understanding, there cannot be unity based on doctrine. Since each one’s journey is individually based, no two believers have a perfect conformity of understanding, which is necessary for a unity based on doctrine. My wife of thirty-five years and I do not agree on everything we understand. If our marriage was based on conformity of understanding we would have divorced long ago. The reason there is so many ‘divorces’ of believers from church bodies is that we have tried to promote conformity of understanding of doctrine, rather than keeping the unity of the Spirit.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 NKJV

Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit means this – if they are a born again one, regardless of what they believe, I will love them, sacrifice for them and die for them if necessary. Love, which comes from the Spirit of God and not the soulish side of man, is the essential element in endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. Romans 16:12NKJV

Jealousy is a form of hatred built on insecurity over the success of another. Jealousy hates another’s success because the afflicted one is insecure/fearful about their own ability to succeed. A rivalry is a form of hatred based on the desire to dominate which is rooted in an insecurity/fear about one’s own position and standing. Jealousy and rivalry attack senior leaders in the body of Christ to render the Body ineffective in its position of rulership and influence in the world.

In one case I know of, two senior leaders had large churches in one town. If one had a crusade, the other had to have a crusade. If one had a parade through town, so must the other. Their people would tear down the other posters and post their own. When one was featured in a Christian documentary film, the other spoke against it. When they would meet in public, they would greet each other and smile. But in their hearts was rivalry and jealousy and, of course, the town knew it.

Do you see why we had to develop an understanding of the true nature of unity before we could confront jealousy and rivalry?

Then after some days, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”  Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another… Acts 15:36-39 NKJV

Pride is closely associated with rivalry and jealousy. Proverbs says that only by pride comes contention. Here are two of what the world might call ‘alpha males,’ in contention to see who would be ‘top dog,’ or ‘lead dog’ in this case. What should they have done here? The best I know is that they should have waited on God, by ministering to the Lord and fasting, to give them both a clear understanding of the will of God in the matter, as they did in Acts thirteen.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven… Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV

How do you war against jealousy and rivalry? You come against it in the opposite spirit. First, you become secure in who you are in Christ and your ability to succeed. Get trained and taught so you are prepared to succeed. Training is perpetual throughout your life. Stop training, and you might as well just prepare for your funeral because you are sliding toward it.

Secondly, love your enemy/rival/competitor. Learn to rejoice in their success. Remember that emotions follow decisions, not the other way around. I decide to do the will of God before I ‘feel’ like doing it. For instance, I never ‘feel’ like fasting, but the fruit of true fasting is that I humble myself before God, which positions me for His favor. So…I fast!

Decide to love your enemy/rival/competitor. Pray for them to be blessed. Speak well of them continually. Learn to genuinely rejoice in their successes, and come alongside them in mercy at other times. When your heart is at peace whenever you think about your enemy/rival/competitor, you have broken the power of rivalry and jealousy.

You may need deliverance from the spirits of rivalry and jealousy. I know I needed deliverance from pride and jealousy! They were generational curses on our family. I had to war against them until I got peace over them. Even now, I must stay on guard against them because those filthy demons like to try to come back.

But if your goal is to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, then every effort to glorify God is worth the struggle. And hear this, dear ones, the fruit will be there, in your own life and ministry, and the advancement of the kingdom of God!

Remember dear ones, we must be about our Father’s business…