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By Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
April  2008

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In Philippians 1:15, 16 Paul says, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:  The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds...”  The N. I . V. puts it, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.  The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”  In our day we have known preachers who were jealous of one another. 
The apostle Paul teaches in Galatians 5:19–21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“Emulations” seems to be one of those sins most overlooked, but the Lord has made it perfectly clear that those who live with this unholy attitude will not make it to Heaven.  This term is listed along with some of the most deplorable vices known to men.  The self-righteous will say, “I thank God I am not as others...”  According to Isiah 55:8,0, as well as other passages tell us that  God does not see things as we do and He is as intolerant of the sins of the heart as those of word and deed.  Therefore, hatred is listed as a sin, as well as, envy.
Jesus taught in Luke 18:10–14, “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
We are all familiar with the results of jealous rivalries in the world, how that one unscrupulous athlete may harm another in order to win or, at least, to get an advantage over the other.  We all can recall the ice skater who conspired to injure another skater’s leg to make her incapable of competing with her.  We probably all remember the jealous rivalry in Texas between cheerleaders.
Channelview was the site of one of the most bizarre attempted murder plots in history, occurring in 1991.  Wanda Webb Holloway was upset that her daughter, Shanna, had failed two consecutive years to make her junior high school’s cheerleading squad.  Holloway came to believe that the fault lay not with Shanna’s inability to make the squad, but with Verna Heath, mother of Amber Heath who was a main rival of Shanna’s.
Holloway asked Terry Harper, her former brother-in-law, to find a hit man to murder Mrs. Heath, hoping that Amber would be distraught and perform poorly in tryouts, thus allowing Shanna to make the squad.  However, Harper notified authorities of the plot, and an undercover police officer arrested Holloway.  Holloway was sentenced to 15 years for attempted murder.
We assume that no one in the Lord’s church would stoop so low as to physically injure another to gain an advantage, nevertheless, sometimes a jealous soul’s tongue is used to damage another Christian’s reputation so that others will dislike him or her.  Certain ones may have “a circle of friends” over which they are so jealous that they want them to themselves only and try to keep them from liking certain other Christians whom they consider as rivals.  The word of God says such “emulations” are sinful in the sight of God and punishable with Hell fire.
Some brethren have shown themselves to be envious when another was complimented for teaching well.  Some have shown themselves to be jealous of another’s ability to sing.  For shame!  We recall a labor day meeting in California where two young men seemed to rival with one another over who was going to get to turn the lights on in the auditorium, and so on.  As we mature we should crucify all such sinful attitudes.
Galatians 5:19-21 from the N.I.V. reads, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.... will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The same version of 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”
We just can’t afford to lose our souls over envy and rivalry.  Person ambition, praise of men, and earthly honor are not worth going to Hell over.  We simply need to learn the love of Christ for all and love the brethren, all of them, so that “by this shall all men know that we are” the Lord’s disciples.  – R.N.


A Christian is never justified for doing wrong,
No matter what anyone else does.

= = = = = = =


When we traveled as youngsters from California to the Fourth of July Meeting in Sulphur, Oklahoma.  We crossed Arizona and New Mexico and Texas before we arrived in Oklahoma.  We saw lots of country and traveled through a variety of terrains.  You may recall the song from years ago in which a songwriter wrote that life is like a mountain railroad.  Others have likened life to many other things.  Have you ever thought in how many ways life is like a journey?
On a journey you drive uphill part of the time; other times everything goes along smoothly on the level.  So in life, there are those times when everything is even and steady, and there are those times when it seems as though it is an all uphill grade.  Those times it takes everything the car has in it to pull the hill; so in life, there are times when it takes everything we’ve got to make it  over some difficulty, and we still need help.
On a journey there are times when you have a long view of what is ahead, while there are other times when sharp curves and hills restrict the vision.  As a boy, I was amazed when I saw the desert country of Arizona and New Mexico.  There were open spaces where you could see for miles and miles.  Sometimes we would see a rain storm for such a long way off and then we would finally begin to encounter the rain.  So in life, there are times when one can foresee what lies ahead, and there are also times when things in life are just not certain.
On a journey there are times when you make good time, and there are times when everything seems bent to slow you down.  Sometimes you run into a great deal of traffic and places where you are uncertain about the proper road.  Coming into St. Louis, Missouri from Illinois used to be a huge challenge for me.  The bridge over the Mississippi River dumped the traffic into an intersection with several roads.  I got lost there several times.  So in life, there are those times when it seems that rapid speed is easily realized, and there are those times when everything one attempts seems to get him nowhere.
On a journey there are those spots of beauty and scenery which inspire our minds and cheer our hearts, while there are scenes that are drab and dismal.  So life presents a varying view.  There are those sights of spiritual progress among the Christians which lift us, and there are other scenes that are anything but cheery.
On a journey you pass others, and you get passed by others.  So in life, we pass others in various ways of our living, and on the other hand, we get passed by others in other respects.  All do not travel the same speed on the road of life.  So in life, it matters not how talented we may be, how educated, how privileged—if we don’t have the wherewithal to “get up and go”, we’ll not get very far on arriving.
On a journey there are certain prohibitions to be heeded.  There are stop signs, restricted speed areas, signal lights, no passing zones, etc.  If we disregard these, we endanger our own lives, we endanger the lives of others, and we are a rebel against the law.  So in life, there are certain prohibitions that must be heeded.  If we persist in sin, we endanger our own souls, we endanger the lives and souls of others, and we are rebels against the law of God.
On a journey we must be careful of what others do.  If we are careful drivers ourselves, all may be well; but, as long as others are driving down the highway too, we must watch out for them—their recklessness may work harm to us.  So in life, we must watch out for the sins, mistakes, and bad examples of others lest they work harm to us.
On a journey we may get off the right road, even though we may think we are headed down the right road. But, following the wrong road, no matter how well meaning we may be, does not land us in the right destination.  So in life, it is possible for us to get onto the wrong road even when thinking we are traveling the road of right.  No matter how sincerely we may think we are on the right road, if we are on the wrong road, we shall not arrive at the right destination.
Years ago, on a journey from California, another young preacher and I had gone several hours through the night toward Texas.  I had been asleep in the back seat and remained there when he stopped the car to get gas.  We didn’t talk; I didn’t get up or offer to drive but went back to sleep.  After about an hour of driving he hollered, “Hey, Richard, does the sun come up in the East?  Needless to say, I woke up startled to see the sun rising in the back window.  We turned around and had to go back over the same stretch of highway that we had covered twice before.  What a waste of time, effort and gas!  On the journey of life sometimes there are indications that we are going the wrong way, but often times, we foolishly continue without turning around.
On a journey it is dangerous to go to sleep at the wheel.  So in life, it is disastrous to go to sleep on the job.  To the spiritually dead the Lord says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14 N.R.S.V.).
On a successful journey it is not those who merely start the trip but never arrive, but those who finish at the right destination.  On the spiritual journey simply starting but failing to “die in the Lord” will not gain us a home in Heaven.  Jesus says, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).  –R. N.