• Chris Steele

Comparing Ourselves with Others

Be Strong, Be Well — Sunday, October 11, 2020


Paul advised the Corinthians “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).

This passage criticizes his accusers (cf. 3:1; 5:12) for comparing themselves with him and others in the abilities they thought they had. The emphasis is on the foolishness of boasting and commending oneself above others. Paul refused to make this into some kind of competition.

This is on the same level as comparing our pain and suffering to what other people are experiencing. What good does it do to compare different kinds of problems, and perhaps levels of pain and stress we all are going through? Are we, for some reason, trying to make the case that we think our problems are worse than someone else’s? Or do we question others, telling them they should be doing what we think is best, because their problems, in our opinion, aren’t as bad as they think they are.

During this virus shutdown and reopening, everyone has had to deal with their own situation. Some of our folks have been out and about trying to get back to some normalcy, and attending collective worship. However, there are those who are not getting out much at all, and have not been out for public worship. They are still worshiping at home.

Who are we to say what is good for one or the other? We don’t know the health issues others are going through. We don’t know their personal situation. Even if we did know, why would we compare ourselves to each other or criticize one another for the decisions in which we alone are responsible?

This puts us in the area of judging one another. God’s word gives us some specific ground rules on the subject of judging.

James lays out some practical laws. “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge” (James 4:11).

“Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9).

Paul taught, “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1 Thessalonians 4:9–11).

To sum it all up: We should not compare ourselves among ourselves. It’s not wise. We need to stop grumbling about others and show more love toward our brethren and leave the judging to God. We need to mind our own business. If we concentrated more on encouraging each other and showing our love and concern for one another, we would have less time to be tempted by those other things. —Chris

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