Jump Start # 3499
2 Corinthians 10:12 “We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
I’m on the internet a lot. Multiple times a day, I’m reading, researching, chasing ideas and looking things up. I guess because of my age and a few news items that I looked at, tons of financial articles appeared. And, most of them are about comparisons. “How much the average retiree should have in their savings account,” read one headline. “Three signs that you are not saving enough,” was another. Then, “The average retiree spends $4385 on monthly expenses.” “What should your net worth be by age 60?”
Reading those news items will either make a person feel that they are sitting pretty good financially or it will just ruin your day. But running through those articles are a common thought, AVERAGE. What is the AVERAGE savings by age 60? How much does the AVERAGE retiree have in investments? What is the AVERAGE return on investments? What are the AVERAGE spending habits of retirees? Average, average, average.
And, all average is, is a comparison. Average in mathematics is the middle number. Some numbers are higher. Some numbers are lower. Combined, an average is determined. In sports, averages run the game. Before a basketball player shoots his free throws, the play-by-play announcers are telling you his average percentage of making those shots. Baseball is filled with all kinds of averages. Even when you take your child to the doctor, and they weigh him and see how tall he is, that is compared to an average number. Your child is above average in height, and dad is thinking, “he’ll be a basketball player.” Your child is below average in weight and moms get concerned.
Averages are connected to comparisons. High averages impress. Low averages discourage. And, in our verse today, Paul tells the Corinthian brethren that we do not compare ourselves with others. We don’t do that. We don’t do that as apostles. Early on, many of them had to learn that lesson. More than once they were talking about which one of them was the greatest. One reaches that conclusion by comparing. Jesus wouldn’t have any of that. The humble Jesus wanted the apostles to be humble. We don’t read much about Bartholomew. We could assume that he was not as important as Peter and John. But that assumption is just that, an assumption. God called him and God wanted him. Don’t think that he was less than others. God doesn’t say that.
Those that compare, our verse tells us, lack understanding. Those that compare, are the ones that commend themselves. Those that compare, are about ready to head over a cliff because of their arrogance and self-righteousness.
Some reminders for us:
First, don’t try to define what an “AVERAGE” Christian is like. Don’t go there. And, even if you could define such a thing, why would you? The average Christian gives this much, one might say. So, what? Do I want to be average? Am I happy with typical? Once I determine what others are doing, will I slow down and just stay with them?
We all come from different backgrounds, have different experiences and different opportunities. Like snow falling from the sky, no two of us are exactly the same. Yes, we have the same needs. Yes, we all are sinners. But, how we came to Jesus, what help we have had, what growth we achieved, is different for each of us.
I’m not a fan of shepherds calling other congregations to find out what area preachers are making to use that as a measuring rod to determine how much to pay their preacher. Once again, average and comparison. How much experience are we talking about? What all is being done? How much do we want the preacher to stay? Those are things that ought to run through the discussion table.
Second, we should not compare congregations. Again, there is no such thing as NORMAL. The study of Revelation 2 and 3 remind us that God never compared the churches to each other. In the parable of the talents, God never compared the men with each other. Different talents, opportunities make each church unique. Some are large. Some are small. Some have tons of talent. Some have very little talent. Some have all sorts of money and resources. Some are barely paying the bills each month. Some are doing well. Some are struggling. Don’t compare.
Third, your measuring rod is yourself and the New Testament. You know what you can do. You know if you are really trying or not. Are you growing? “Well, I’m doing better than others.” Don’t do that. Don’t compare. Are you growing? That’s a yes or no answer. Are you involved in kingdom work? “Well, I teach more than others do?” Stop comparing. Are you involved in the kingdom work? The answer is yes or no. Are you giving as you have been prospered? “Well, I know I give more than some.” Again, you are comparing. Are you giving as you have been prospered? That’s a yes or no.
Simply put, are you doing the best that you can do? Are you bringing your best to God?
Average. Normal. Typical. What others are doing. That may work in sports and finances. It’s terrible in the kingdom of God. We know better. We have understanding.