Of Love & Order part 2: Love Yourself First

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Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matt 12:31

You have to love yourself or you’ll never be able to accept compliments from anyone.
Dean Wareham

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy. Kirstin Chenoweth

Who Are You?
Everything that happens to us, we make happen for ourselves and/or others and our actions and inactions shape and mould us into who we are. We live in an imperfect world which means we are in a constant refining operation. This is a slightly easier undertaking for those who make an effort to renew their minds as often as possible. Daily taking up your cross as growth towards conforming to the image of Christ occurs is not a walk in the park. If we are going to be real with ourselves and be serious about not cheating ourselves by portraying aspects of ourselves we wish we were-both to others and to ourselves-it will start with a few things.

Conquer the dark side
Every now again I would ponder the existence of a dark side within each of us. People often refer to this as fighting our own demons. For the constantly prayerful Christian this does not apply to them because of the Psalm 91 protection. The struggle to gain and maintain high self-esteem is a battle that can feel like it lasts for an eternity. I am of the impression that building and prolonging high self-esteem comes primarily from being honest with yourself. There can be truly no excuse for certain behaviour and patterns to persist firstly  in the individual’s life at all, but more so for those caught in the vicious trap of ignorance. Erupting in complete anger (much worse in longer durations) towards someone important to you, especially your relationship, has devastating effects. You can attempt to defend yourself, “The circumstances made it appropriate for me to be angry. They messed up,” supposing it is so, is it not true that  preserving a relationship is more important than being right? Overcoming our dark sides (the things we hate about ourselves) will be a tough but necessary process. Why am I leaning towards this direction? Here is the bottom line:

NB: If you are going to give yourself to someone, give them someone you love

There is nothing more selfish in the whole world than you not loving yourself. Take time to think about that. It is completely unfair to everyone you come into contact with and everyone already in your life. You do not have to be fully whole and complete when you either meet your life partner or continue the relationship with them, but you must do your level best not to be completely broken as well. Be honest. Joyce Meyer mentions the value of having a meeting with yourself. Work diligently to improve on those things you dislike or hate about yourself. Are you short-tempered? Being patient, listening, understanding and empathetic, slowly but surely, is a place you will eventually reach.

Love Yourself
Giving a part of yourself to anyone requires a certain measure of love for them. You will not give your time to someone you do not like or respect. Give yourself first what you will give someone else. You say you love them? Good, love yourself immensely. You say you respect them?  Have lots of respect for yourself. Their importance to you stems from you having deep self-worth. The measure of love you give to someone will be the same measure you have for yourself. Why is this the case? Simple. You can’t give what you don’t have. In the process of loving yourself, particularly if you are finding yourself, ask these questions:

What do you see yourself as?
Does that change every now and again?
Are you a different person in public than you are at home?
Do you have very good standards in general?
Are you honest about who you say you are?

Qualify Your Expectations
A great woman of God, Ashley Brown has been doing a series on her YouTube channel Ashley Empowers called “Dating With Purpose,” where she interviews different couples who have gone through the process the right way. I highly recommend you see as much as possible. This couple Rachel & Roger have a lovely story and share wonderful lessons they have learned in their journey. The one I will be focusing on here is the significance of being who you are looking for. It is crucial to be real about your relationship and expectations for it. If you desire someone who is fit then you will need a good reason for that. It does not make sense to expect something in and of someone that is not already in you.

A message from the King of love
Taking note of the creator of love is paramount. Joyce Meyer says, “Love yourself, but don’t fall in love with yourself.” Hit those affirmations and declarations over yourself. Personalize Scripture. Romans 8:31 which says  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? You can read it as  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for me, who can be against me? It is vital to remember that. Chapter 10:17 talks about faith coming by hearing the word of God so be sure to hear the word you speak over yourself. A good way to bear in mind the avoiding of falling in love with yourself (where pride and conceit thrive), is to be guided by these:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:3-4

 

 

The Fourth Fruit: A Chess Battleground

Galatians 5:22-23
But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these

Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint

Ecclesiastes 7:9
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools

The Checkers Challenge
I used to love playing Checkers so many times. It is actually kind of scary thinking about it. Admittedly my ability to perceive and anticipate my opponent’s move or foresee the possible danger in the move I made was a weakness I had. Fortunately to make up for that I took my time and saw some moves that were very beneficial for me, more than I ever imagined! There is still nothing worse than the handicap of taking blind steps. I was always mentally fatigued when my opponents reacted in a way that indicated vulnerability with the move I made.

At times in life I feel like I am playing checkers. I make decisions and later wonder whether or not I made the right one. I know myself to be the kind of person who only realizes the mistakes made, afterward. This has lead me to be a bit antsy about most things. I often question the next move before making it only because I will not be in a position to fully determine the advantages and disadvantages. In this case I am then mocked by circumstance as if to be told that my move was the wrong one and there is no resolution.

A Villainous Tactic
While that does seem to appear crude in almost every form-at first glance-it really is not. One thing I have to just sit back and applaud is the common factor that most villains have,  patience. True their intentions are obviously disreputable and to their misfortune, their patience is exercised in vain, however, it is still very admirable how long their limit is! I began to ponder this factor and came to understand that it lies deep in their desire to accomplish their goal. In addition to seemingly well calculated plans, and in the case of intelligent bandits, properly and carefully calculated plans, they are so confident in what they have put in place they believe nothing will stop them. One needs to comprehend the profound aspect of this. They are so organized that backup plans are also set. Of course this is to account for the hero who is to demolish all they have taken time to build, yet it still stands to reason that regardless of how sinister the outline is, the depth of patience lies in the confidence of strategic planning motivated by the strength of the desire to achieve the goal.

A few questions one must ask himself (generically speaking) is:
1) How smart is my goal? That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely
2) How strong is my desire to achieve it?
3) Have I made tactical plans to accomplish it?
4) Am I confident in my plans? Why or Why not?
5) Do I have a contingency plan in place as a precautionary measure?

The Individual vs Wrath
I have asked a lot of my friends who are top chess players how long a game can easily last. I was shocked to have found out that three hours is a general length to reach. They speak of this as if it were typical! I respect that, truly. I must congratulate myself in recognizing how patient I have become in the past few months. True there have been moments where I have erupted in anger unnecessarily, fortunately to grow from that, glean from such experiences the qualities I lacked, and use them to my advantage should the need arise. Strangely enough a phrase that I have recently used indirectly in reference to how I must proceed with the situation before me is: I’ll have to let this play its course. My personal favourite one is: Patience will have to be the order of the day. Saying that immediately puts me into The Zone.

I remember a scene in Evan Almighty where the words of God were so revelatory I was blown away. He was speaking to Evan Baxter:

God: Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

For me growing in patience is like a game of chess. If I lose my cool for a few minutes then I have made the wrong move and my wrath begins to get the upper hand. If the length in time it takes for me to get angry decreases and the length in time extends while I am angry, then my wrath has put me in a corner and I am very close to receiving check-mate. If on the other hand the length in time it takes for me to be angry increases, and the time I am angry is brief, then I have trapped my wrath and have it very close to check-mate. When do I actually reach check-mate you ask? When my patience is so high that I annoy everyone around me.

Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.- Mary Pierce

He that can have patience can have what he will. Benjamin Franklin

Changing The World Without Changing With It

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

Deut 7:6

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth

When you’re the only sane person, you look like the only insane person.” ― Criss Jami, Diotima, Battery, Electric Personality

“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” 
― Albert Einstein

“A person who does many things differently and often independently makes perhaps the biggest difference of the highest significance for the greatest excellence in everyone’s life.” 
― Anuj Somany

We are in the world but not of it– Christian Principle

Fitting In To Eventually Stand Out
Being a spy can be a daunting job. The very skills required to gather info about someone or something else without any detection from them is tough. The very idea of bypassing security protocols, hacking into servers and mainframes and taking control of them and do everything from the outside in is intense. As deep as that may be, having to be a double-agent among friends is even harder. I essentially lived that life in high school and Bible school. I noticed there were individuals who were evil influences among others. The cunning aspect of this was that they did not know it. This frustrated me because they were able to turn people against me and still appear innocent! The most impressive portion of this was that I was the only one who could see all this happening, thankfully not exclusively to me, but was still a prevailing matter in my case.

The worst part that was challenging was the decision to be like these people who were devious in their ways. Not to the extent where I was making people believe I was a nice guy only to turn out to be the opposite later on, but to some degree, do what was against my personal (social) beliefs, appear to harm others or have them think I were doing so, pacify them and do the (good) deed for their benefit at the expense of getting credit for it. Trust me selflessness and anonymous volunteering does not work out for me. I had a hard time doing this but realized that I could find a way to still do good and stick to my beliefs while looking as though I were performing the contrary.

No Gender No Position
Some time back I heard about how a lot of celebrities, specifically men were trying to promote some trend about how it was perfectly fine for them to be putting on female clothes. It was preposterous and absurd in every sense of the word!

Imagine if as a fashion designer your product is carefully drawn and tailored for women, but you look around and see your work of art being displayed by men! That would come as a huge shock. These are people that believe that clothes have no gender. Standing out in this day and age may actually mean watching the world to see how much lower its standards are getting, looking for the loophole in the attempt to persuade one to join in (especially if its made to seem both natural, harmless and the best decision of one’s life), and gaining the courage to say, “No.” Doing so is much better than adapting to the superficial customs of this world. It may even mean detaching yourself from the friends who, on the surface seem like they mean no harm, but at the heart of the matter, do more damage than they realize.

The Process
The decision to change is never an easy one. The very idea of accomplishing it is no small feat. It takes an immensely intensified desire to implement it. As is the case with any habit, the main factor that contributes to success is remembrance. All one has to do is remember to continue the actions leading to the new habit and they will eventually achieve it. Discipline goes without say as does the act of being intentional about it. I love to liken this to my strong, irritating persistence in defeating an opponent in a video game. I may lose numerous times but I immediately re-strategize, refocus and re-engage the battle. To me it is like nothing else exists and nothing else maters except me successfully defeating my opponent. This essentially is what the need to change should feel and be like.

What Exactly Constitutes A Happily Ever After?
A few weeks ago the whatsapp group I am part of  showcased the worst piece of news I have heard and seen to date. For me, more than the political and economical state of a nation, the social position takes precedence. I could care less of there are millions of jobs and the government is doing well with international relations among other things, if abortion, prostitution, gay marriages is legalized, believe me there is something seriously wrong with the nation. Those things, down to the core affect the very lives of the individuals both influenced by and practicing such things. If the next generation grows to understand and accept them, saving the world will literally be a daily struggle. Let me illustrate what I mean:

Disney’s gay marriage

There was someone from this post that commented on this idea, sadly in the affirmative:

Every 8th grader knows the simple facts of biology that demonstrate that homosexuality is a sexual disorder. Human sexuality is complementary (male/female) in nature and coitus is the primary function of the male/female genitalia. Homosexuals permanently substitute other sexual practices for coitus in the same way a bulimic permanently substitutes disordered eating practices for healthy eating practices. It is obvious.

An artist decided that displaying this image in a public school or library was just very fascinating and states: It is not my intention to offend:

Conclusion
At the end of the day, parents and guardians really need to watch what their children are watching. To reach a point where you have to teach a child about self-worth and help them have a very high self-esteem, so that they are not tricked and fooled into believing that there is an alternative to receiving love, if not from the opposite sex, is unfathomable yet very necessary. Their minds will be conditioned to live this way if nothing is done about it. T.V, the Internet and friends must not dictate what life principles children live by, that is the parents/guardians responsibility. It is not about judging but determining where the line is drawn and never crossing it. Standing out may be a lifetime job and lonely road to walk, but the impact on society and future generations is invaluable.

 

Perfect Peace and a Perfect Mind

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Peace in good and bad times

I recently meditated on Isaiah 26:3 and my eyes froze on it as though time stopped. All other words might as well have slowly faded away as the only thing in crystal clear picture and vision were these words:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind (both its inclination and its character) is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

My eyes kept circling back and forth those words and my mind tried to follow through. Eventually I began to feel it resonate deep within me as other verses relating to peace and the mind sprung forth. I discovered something interesting as I kept thinking about it. This is more of an inner peace that cannot be shaken by any situation. The Jews were singing a song to God in order to re-establish their own land and, in essence, devote it to Him. He is to be their strong city, their everlasting protection. The peace that is to be their soul-soothing comfort (as well as ours) is said to be perfect peace, which is undisturbed in any and every way. Free from persecution, poverty, sickness, want, or bereavement.

The Trade And Reward
There is a reward for holding to our end of the deal. To be kept guarded and given perfect peace is invaluable. All we have to do is simply (because it’s not complicated) keep our minds on Him. How so? By staying commited to Him, leaning on Him, and cofidently hoping in Him. Happiness is situational and temporary, but joy is eternal. Since there is joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11) then the easiest way to practice all three is to be joyful. That means both in the good times and in the bad (Psalm 34:1). In a literal sense we have to picture Him beside us at all times so that He is Someone very close to us, because He is (Hebrews 13:8 cf Josh 1:5). Think long and hard about that.

2015: The Year Of Divine Grace, Rest And New Beginnings

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Reflection & Regeneration: The Battle For Rest

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End Of Year Struggles 

There comes a time when the night gets dark and becomes even darker and darker, without so much as a small glimpse of a possible sunrise. This may happen after a year of excellent progress, with things going exactly, or at least close to, the way you want it. Granted there a few slip ups here and there, but for the most part the path you walk could not be smoother. Children doing great at school, business grows from scratch to a glorious display of success, very few obstacles appear and those that do are minor and easy to deal with until, the unexpected happens: a storm. Suddenly extended family members are struck with a possible terminal illness, all the creditors you forgot about and were hoping to keep avoiding all arrive at your doorstep, you get a call from the university with a threat of student expulsion for failure of fee payments while your other child seems to be nonchalant about anything and everything regardless of its severity. You lay in your bed with eyes up to the ceiling, with hands clenched tight, breath held in, stomach tucked, body tensed hard, then eyes shut the same way and in the next few seconds you want to just explode!

A False Light
You are left wondering if the light at the end of the tunnel will get any bigger. Forget that, if it even exists at all in the first place! You almost want to subject yourself to the idea of the light feeling like centuries to get to, as better than not being there at all. You are crazy enough to believe that it is the more tolerable and logical notion. You are in December, in the year of revelation and declaration and you have been promised a double deliverance and yet all you experience is the exact opposite! You wonder if you are seeing things. If this is a dream. Maybe you blacked-out. You are unconscious. Or you somehow daydreamed and at any moment this is all going to go away. I mean, at a time where you should be resting, you find yourself fighting!

The New Year Jitters
I have heard about this “January disease” nonsense. I don’t believe it because my birthday is in January. All wonderful cool new stuff happens in January. Why a disease? I have heard it is where people go so crazy about Christmas that all their life savings goes into as many gifts and events as possible, to the point where extremely little to nothing is left in January. I still find it weird that people’s lack of self-control becomes a social phenomenon. This just adds to the battle. The way you leave a year is the same way you enter the next. That means regardless of what your resolutions may be-something that should be done at the end of November or beginning of December-will not matter because you have the same problems you were hoping to be solved, following you into the next year. No wonder a lovely, beautiful brand new year, welcomed to us by a brand new day-to some people-does not feel that way at all!

Discipline by Control of Emotions
Whenever you are in a high state of emotion your level of logic depletes tremendously. That is why fear, anxiety, anger, depression, resentment, regret among others are emotions that must not be carried in December. This month is a time of rest and nothing should take that away, however, should anything unexpected happen, you have but one choice: fight. You do it from the inside out. Guard your emotions, then guard your heart (Proverbs 4:21). Only with a mind that is at ease can wisdom reign (Romans 12:2; Phil 4:8). After you calm yourself, take action. Laziness and procrastination are no excuses. They must be put very far from you as is the case, interaction with those who inhabit such qualities. Strictly ensure that no distractions prevent you from achieving your rest. Do not stop until it is obtained. Do whatever it takes to make sure you do not enter your year without at least a small idea of practical solutions to dust off the path you are to walk.

Cognitive Impact: Learning To Think Critically 
I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” where he focuses on teaching and encouraging readers to understand that brief pieces of information, required to deduce any situation-as long as all the necessary elements are gathered-can be used to make vital decisions. All this without considering possibilities of any error occurring or anticipating any sort of danger with the decision made or at the very least, thought about. Then looking at Michael R LeGault’s “Think!” that strategy is completely nullified with the tactic of learning to take time to consider all possibilities, weigh all your options and gain as much info as possible before making your decision. Take note of these few things I found important as you formulate your battle plan:

a) Faulty thinking is the result of two distinct but interwoven factors: The inability to think critically and a lack of will to think clearly. Meaning people prefer to accept what they feel they cannot change because they do not have the desire to find the means to do so.

b) Quoting Vincent Ryan Rugerio, 3 things are needed to think critically:
i) Find the evidence
ii) Find out what the evidence means
iii) Make a conclusion about the evidence

For me thinking critically is about having an open mind that is partially closed, meaning that I embrace the possibility of some of my beliefs having a fallacy to them or new info that contradicts some of my beliefs as a likelihood of that truth. On the other hand I research more of that info in order to confirm the theories so that nothing is ever taken at face value but at the same time nothing is ever fully embraced, in a dogmatic manner until proven.
I believe this kind of thinking will help with the tough problems that we may carry into the new year, as solutions that are written down and double-checked, at least four times, help us start the year with a decent level of comfort.

Claiming Your Rest
Peace is something we deceive ourselves into believing is the absence of war or conflict. Peace is in fact not an experience we hope for, but a prize we fight for. Two years ago I wrote about what it took to gain that peace and as we conclude this year, it will have to be done with the discipline, desire and determination to obtain it. Patience (Gal 5:22-23) is a partner that plays her part. If you do your best to work with her, then Wisdom (Proverbs 3:5-6) will be able to show you the right direction to make absolute certain that you finish it. Take note, this path is not an easy one to walk, but is very crucial in allowing you to welcome the new year in the same way it welcomes you because it is vital that no stone is left unturned. It may mean doing the dirty work. I mean really getting down to it. Even if it means:
-Restoring an intimate relationship
-Forgiving a friend, family member, both immediate and extended, a stranger, coworker or boss (Phil 2:3-4; Matt 5:16)
-Clearing debt/s (always remember to repay the debt of love [Romans 8:13])
-Fulfilling a promise you made, even if it was a while ago
-Checking how many goals were achieved and how many are left, even those from a few years ago
-Fulfilling a pledge
-Making sure as many things as possible meet the budget or starting a budget if one does not exist
-Staying committed where you signed up to do so (Proverbs 3:27-28; Gal 6:9)
-Paying all workers & employees or discussing a reasonable payment plan if that is not possible (Col 3:22-25, 4:1; Rom 4:4; Lev 19:13; 1 Tim 5:18).  .

Get it done or at least half done and complete it in the new year. Be faithful to the best of your abilities and imitate your Father in that matter (Deut 7:9; 2 Tim 2:13). He is faithful to complete the good work He begun in you (Phil 1:6). You can still get your double salvation, double revelation, double completion, double perfection, and double deliverance. It is not over yet! Do not lose hope (Rom 4:18; Jer 29:11; Isa 54:17; Rom 8:36). You can achieve your rest!

Denying God Through Self-Glorification

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For a long time I have wondered what the passage in Proverbs 6 meant. Here it is:

Proverbs 6:17

These six things the Lord hates, yea, seven are an abomination to Him. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Self-glorification first of all is a very serious matter. With me included, many Christians have been sucked and deceived into thinking that the ultimate desire or purpose on earth is to excel above everyone else in any given field. That is what the world conforms to. We are not to do that (Romans 12:2). This world’s ways are fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs. This is the case especially with regards to ethical and moral issues which heavily impact existential and philosophical lessons passed onto younger generations. Their understanding of life, the meaning of life, finding themselves and their purpose will be heavily thwarted.

In essence being better than everyone is the final goal of every human existence as far as the worldly standard is concerned. You are born to be great in a sophisticated and praised field in the world. This is what Christians have been taught to believe as well. It is not about being the best you can be and improving on that to the point where you’re maintaining excellence, but about being the best in general and overall. What is the point of the best? It is so that not only can prominent colleges seek you out, but companies and various highly respected individuals as well which results in putting you on a pedestal. Everyone praises you. Then what happens? Your parents, perhaps teachers and friends brag about you in front of their peers, whether that’s direct or indirect.

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A Possible Second Battle

In the Bible there is only one thing that serves as the number one contender against God: Mammon. It is wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. It is the only other thing that Jesus acknowledged as master in this world besides God. Hence why He said:

No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

Now self-glorification is probably another master that the world gets mastered by. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best. One need not aim to excel above everyone else, but only to excel above one’s own capacity to succeed. If in the process that allows you to rise above everyone else, great, as long as it is not the motive. There are a number of problems that come with self-glorification:

  1. You do not seek to glorify God first.
  2. It can possibly create an identity crisis. You do not know who you are in Christ (and maybe not fully, if you do) and therefore seek validation of yourself from others.
  3. It creates narcissism. Self-obsession can be really bad.

 

This all started in the Garden of Eden. After God created everything and pronounced it good, that included Adam and Eve. Now the Perfect World in which they lived was one that ensured that everything they did was good because it was the only thing they knew. When Eve was deceived self-glorification was born because she was led to believe that not only was she deprived of high status (because she was to be like God) but now good was not the only thing she knew anymore. This time being good came at the struggle of not allowing evil to creep in. In another case, listen to what God told the Israelites:

Deut 8:12-14, 17

Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them,

13 And when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied,

14 Then your [minds and] hearts be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,

 17 And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.

Hezekiah, who wrote Proverbs 25-30, talked about the importance of having just enough which is the sufficient amount of all necessities. Nothing more and nothing less.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Two things have I asked of You [O Lord]; deny them not to me before I die:

Remove far from me falsehood and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,

Lest I be full and deny You and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor and steal, and so profane the name of my God.

One of the key things a commentary said about Agur is that he so wisely prayed for a middle state, that he might be kept at a distance from temptations.

Jesus rebuked a man who trusted his security in his riches and predicted a life of luxury (only) for himself:

Luke 12:19-21

And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily.

20 But God said to him, You fool! This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be?

21 So it is with the one who continues to lay up and hoard possessions for himself and is not rich [in his relation] to God [this is how he fares].

I put a lot of thought into this. It reminds me of what Solomon said concerning the pointlessness of working so hard to build your empire, only to find that one with less wisdom than you would take over and not properly manage all that you have worked so hard to build (Ecc 2:18-21)

What about Cain?

God wanted Cain to be successful just as much as Abel. He did not ask if Cain was to be more successful than his brother, He only asked that if he did well then he was to be accepted:

Gen 4:6-7

And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected?

7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

Conclusion
I believe God would love for us to be good husbands/wives and parents to our children. Excelling above someone else is not really, at the end of the day, a goal worthy of pursuing. Rather being the best person you were created to be and can be (and if that in turn allows you to be much better than someone else-well done) so that His glory may manifest in all that you do, along with benefiting and improving other people’s lives.