Phillip Yancey has an interesting perspective on sea gulls. This quote was taken from “The Strong Willed Child” by James Dobson—
“It's easy to see why people like the seagull. I've sat overlooking a craggy harbor and watched one. He exults in freedom. He thrusts his wings backward with powerful strokes, climbing higher and higher until he's above all the other gulls, then coasts downward in majestic loops and circles. He constantly performs, as if he knows a movie camera is trained on him, recording.
In a flock, though, the seagull is a different bird. His majesty and dignity melt into a sordid slough of in-fighting and cruelty. Watch that same gull as he dive-bombs into a group of gulls, provoking a flurry of scattered feathers and angry squawks to steal a tiny morsel of meat. The concepts of sharing and manners do not exist among gulls. They are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a red ribbon around the leg of one gull, making him stand out, you sentence him to execution. The others in the flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood. They'll continue until he lies flattened in a bloody heap.”
Sometimes people, even the children of God, can act a lot like sea gulls. Competitiveness and jealousy can become motivating forces in our lives, seemingly helping us accomplish quite a bit and even securing some measure of success in the eyes of others. But what do we lose in the process? Jealousy and competitiveness make for a combustible combination--they can be very destructive. They can transition me from having my brother’s back, to stabbing my brother in the back, even as a Christian man. I am exhorted by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3 to- “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Jealousy and competition can feed a satanic fire in me, where I am willing to throw my brother under the bus. Because I am doing the opposite of Paul’s exhortation, I’m looking out for number 1, the most important person in my life becomes, me, myself, and I.
Paul goes on to warn us of the consequences of this me-first centered thinking in Galatians 5:13-15- “For you have been called to live in freedom—not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.”
Every truly substantive desire that our soul seeks is found within the context of Christian community. This is where we find God’s provision in its fullness. This is where we find the strength, significance, security, and the sense of family our hearts are longing for. This is something we must sacrificially guard, dependent upon God’s grace alone to do so.
One of Satan’s titles in scripture is Apollyon, “The Destroyer”. He is committed to destroying the people of God—committed to destroying Christian community. He accomplishes this by tempting us to do what he did so long ago, put personal desires before God’s will.
Putting personal desires above God’s will destroys—destroys marriages, destroys families, destroys friendships. Unfortunately, in our society where we sacrifice truth on the altar of politeness, this destruction is often explained away behind a mask of self denial, rationalization and deception. We must all beware, lest we allow lust to direct us to seek what we think we need, and in so doing, we become the destructive tool that destroys what we and others truly want.