Did you ever compare something before? Were you ever ready to make a purchase, but before making up your mind, you compared one item to another. Sometimes the decision is easy. However at other times, it can be quite difficult.
How many times have you compared items and made a wrong decision? You tried your best, but your decision was wrong. It wasn’t the end of the world and in the end nothing bad probably came from it. All of us have done it. However, there are times when we make comparisons that the outcome can be problematic and even harmful.
Consider the scripture: II Corinthians 10:12
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
If you took the keywords, defined them and then paraphrased this passage, it would look something like this.
We should not do the extreme behavior of counting ourselves as part of a special group, nor should we judge ourselves with those that exhibit themselves: because those who measure others to themselves or compare themselves to the standard of others are not wise.
What does this actually mean? We are all familiar with the phrase, “He thinks he has arrived”. People who see themselves this way are guilty of making themselves of the number. Sometimes these people stand out. However, there are others who are guilty of this, but they cloak themselves with false words of humility.
You measure yourself by yourself when you determine your spirituality based on how you compare yourself to others. You may measure yourself more spiritual than others if the others have fallen short of your standard of living or you may consider yourself less spiritual because you have not attained the standard of living that others have set.
We have all done this. We look around the church and interact with those present. In the back of my minds, we compare ourselves to those we meet. We point out their weaknesses or shortcomings as the scale of righteousness tips in our favor. For others, the process is quite different. They view others in the opposite way. They identify good qualities in others and make a comparison of themselves. Again the scale of righteousness tips, but they are on the unfavorable side. The event goes on Sunday after Sunday. This two way street of measuring our spirituality is wrong and unwise.
Why do we do it or how did we get this way? There may be many reasons why you and I act this way but for most of us, it can boil down to a few sources. All while growing up, we were measured or compare. Compared to the older brother or sister or even compared to the neighbor. We were compared to a performance standard to get into sports, compared grades for honor privileges, compared to honesty, compared to hard work, compared in every facet of life. We compare ourselves because we were raised to compare. These comparisons–as a whole–were right, but they are not right spiritually.
Another reason we compare is because of our insecurity as human beings. Since the fall of man, we have fallen short of God’s intended design for man and this creates an insecurity within us. Deep within us, we seek acceptance from others and for those who come to know Christ, we seek acceptance from God. Some of us recognize that in Christ we have obtained acceptance. However for so many of us, this is not so. Why? There have been wounds that we have obtained: wounds upon our souls. These are wounds of rejection. Every time somebody treated us wrongfully, we were also rejected. Being laughed at, mocked, shunned, and even being teased hurt us deeply because each of these was a rejection. These wounds pressed us down and at times even depressed us. Our natural response was to seek acceptance from others. In an effort to attain this, we identified what were acceptable standards and then set out to accomplish them. Be thin! Be fun! Be smart! Be popular and the be’s go on. When we came to Christ, the attitude remained within us. We identified acceptable spiritual standards and then set out to accomplish them. Be faithful, be modest, be giving, be helpful, be humble – and the be’s go on. We compared ourselves to others to see how we were doing and when we did, we were not wise.