Question:

Is it wrong to be competitive in school? I know that God stresses the importance of education, but I see myself to be very competitive when it comes to grades. It's not an ego thing where I get scores to show off or anything, but it is because I want to get into good schools and be successful throughout my academic life and, in the future, my job. There are many students in my class who are like this as well, and I do want to get into a good school a lot of people want to get into, so is it wrong to pray and ask for academic success if this is my motivation: to want to do well in school?


Answer:

"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:13-15).

Often people focus on Christ's invitation to ask anything of him and neglect to notice that conditions Christ placed on these prayers.

What is asked is in Christ's name

The phrase, "in my name" means that it is according to what Christ authorized. If you ask to pass a test, even if it means cheating, then you won't receive it because it is asking permission to lie about your abilities.

The one asking is obedient to Christ

God doesn't listen to sinners. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). So many people expect God to answer prayers from people who do not follow God's teachings.

Thus, are you asking to succeed at the expense of others? Then that would violate God's laws. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). But if you are only looking to do your own best, then that would be fine. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). It doesn't matter if you beat others or not. What matters is that you have done your personal best and can be content that you did all you could.

You also need to remember that success from a worldly viewpoint has nothing to do with true success. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). Do your best, but if for whatever reason you don't meet your objectives, it won't mean you are failure. It only means you need to look for another path through life.

Okay. That was very good information. Thank you so much!