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The Scriptorium

No Comparison

Except with Jesus. 2 Corinthians 10.10-12

2 Corinthians 10 (4)

Pray Psalm 52.8, 9.
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

Sing Psalm 52.8, 9.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
But as for me may I be seen in God an olive ever green!
Ever in God, most kind and just, shall I with joy and gladness trust!

Thanks evermore to our Savior be raised! His faithfulness be ever praised!
Here with Your people, loving God, I wait upon Your Name, so good!

Read 2 Corinthians 10.1-12; meditate on verses 10-12.

Preparation

1. What were the false teachers saying about Paul?

2. What did Paul say about them?

Meditation
We get the feeling that Paul was preparing for a showdown with the false teachers when he returned to Corinth. He knew what they were saying about him, how they were comparing his weak appearance to their robust self-confidence; his “contemptible” speech to their grandiloquence; his boldness in writing but meekness in person, to their ability to wow and win a following (v. 1).

Paul warned people who were thinking this way that they would see a different side of him when he returned to Corinth (v. 11). And not just in word, but “in deed”. He did not explain what that might mean, but we can imagine it set the false teachers to some consternation of soul. Perhaps they remembered how Jesus cleared the temple (1 Cor. 11.1)?

The schism that wracked the churches in Corinth, and which was by the writing of 2 Corinthians beginning to heal, was the product of brash men vaunting themselves and their views over the absent Paul, creating cliques and leading people to identify with their ersatz superiority. We should not compare ourselves with one another, but only with Jesus. Only by looking at ourselves in the mirror of Jesus can we know glory and grace to make us more like Him (2 Cor. 3.12-18). We are unwise to compare ourselves—typically favorably—with others (v. 12).

The only comparison that mattered to Paul was how he and other believers stood up in the Presence of the Lord. Beyond that, no comparisons were of any value, only building one another up in love.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
You can tell which side of the tracks you think you were born on, when you determine what the other side is.

I don’t know who said this, but the truth of it resonates. Comparisons delineate. No doubt about it.

But Paul recommends that we abstain. “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 Cor. 10.12). So, some may vaunt themselves by comparison; others, just as surely, denigrate themselves. It all boils down to our perception of ourselves—which side of the tracks?

Jesus put the final nail in the comparison coffin when Peter questioned him about his fate. Jesus had just told him, “‘when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following…seeing him, [Peter] said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’” (Jn. 21. 18-21).

And here we have Jesus’ thoughts on comparisons. “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (Jn. 21.18-22).

Even when it comes to our sin, we must not compare ourselves with others. As David prayed, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight…” (Ps. 51.4).

As Isaiah wrote, “But we are all like an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Is. 64.6). All unclean before Him.
And Paul adds, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23). All sin, all fall short.

And all cared for and loved by our heavenly Father. No comparisons. No partiality (Acts 10.34).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3.16).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).

Whether we ever thought to vaunt or denigrate ourselves in comparison to another is wasted energy, pointless, and sinful. Most assuredly, placing us on the wrong side of the tracks from God.

“The only comparison that mattered to Paul was how he and other believers stood up in the Presence of the Lord. Beyond that, no comparisons were of any value, only building one another up in love…Only by looking at ourselves in the mirror of Jesus can we know glory and grace to make us more like Him.”

And that we must daily and unabashedly compare!

For reflection
1. Why do we play the “comparisons game”? What drives us to want to compare ourselves favorably or over or unfavorably against others?

2. What can we do to make Jesus increasingly the most meaningful focal point of our comparisons?

3. Whom will you encourage today with a word from Jesus?

There is not a more fruitful source of error, than to judge of persons and opinions by our own prejudices. How common is it for persons to judge of their own religious character, by the opinions and maxims of the world around them! But how different is the rule of God’s word! Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10.12

Pray Psalm 52.1-7.
Pray that God will silence all who boast in themselves and vaunt themselves by putting others down. Pray that He will keep you from so doing, and that the fear of His chastising grace (Heb. 12.3-11) will lead you to build others up in Him today.

Sing Psalm 52.1-7.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Why do the mighty boast in sin? God’s love endures, it knows no end!
They with their tongues vain boasts repeat, and like a razor, work deceit.

Men more than good in evil delight, and lies prefer to what is right.
They utter words both harsh and strong with their devouring, deceitful tongue.

God will forever break them down, uproot, and cast them to the ground!
He from their safety tears them away, no more to know the light of day.

The righteous see and laugh and fear, and say, “Behold, what have we here?
Such are all who at God conspire, and wealth and evil ways desire.”

T. M. and Susie Moore

Growing in prayer
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by 
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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