For the week of October 5, 2002 / 29 Tishri 5763
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 1:1 - 6:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5 - 43:11
Replaced by: 1 Samuel 20:18-42

Cooperation, Not Competition

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Bereshit / Genesis 2:18).

According to the Torah the primary human relationship is between men and women. The first other person a human being ever interacted with was a member of the opposite sex. Not only was God's provision of a companion for Adam not an animal or spiritual being, it was also not another male, whether it be a father, brother, friend, or mentor of any kind. It was a woman.

The creation of the woman was in response to God's statement, "It is not good for the man to be alone." However we understand the relationship of men and women, clearly it is one of close association for a common purpose. There is much discussion today as to the actual meaning of the Hebrew word translated "helper." These discussions tend to deal quite a bit with issues of equality and authority. While the passage does address these issues, the point I want to make is that men and women were designed by God to work in cooperation, not competition.

Competition is part and parcel of life. Getting ahead at the expense of the next person or understanding ourselves through constantly comparing ourselves to others is how many, if not most of us, live.

The truth is that each one of us is of great value in our own right, because each of us are one of God's creatures. Each one of us has a unique part to play in fulfilling God's purposes. Competition (and I am not talking about sporting competitions or other kinds of contests), arises out of personal insecurity stemming from our age old disruption in our relationship with our Creator.

This disruption is seen most vividly through the competition that exists between men and women. Note that for many competition is first introduced at a very young age through the-boys-versus-the-girls rivalries. But it is difficult for us to understand our God-given roles, when we may not know who we are in relationship to God himself.

So we first need to come to know God. This is something more than a religious understanding. It is a deep personal experience that can only come about through a heart encounter with the Messiah.

Once we are in right with God, we can begin to look at how he has called us to relate to one another. When we lose our compulsion to compete, we are more able to discover how we each fit in relationship to others.

Obviously there is much discord in the world, but much of that discord exists today right in our homes and within the most intimate of all human relationships husbands and wives.

How much better we would all be if beginning in our homes, we could discover how we have been made to work together with one another, in cooperation, and not competition.

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