Comparisons are Odious

April 16, 2018

2 Corinthians 10:12… Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

            Many years ago I read a short essay by Chuck Swindall, entitled, “Comparisons are odious”. I did not know exactly what ‘odious’ meant, but I knew it was not good. It stuck with me. He used this verse as one of his main points. Some of the false teachers, in Paul’s day, were commending themselves by putting other teachers down. Paul was one of the teachers they spoke poorly of. In the above sentence, he wrote that he was aware of it but would not engage in such tactics. He did write against certain teachings that were at odds with Jesus’ teachings.  But, he did not use it as a way to promote himself as a minister. Comparisons, in Christianity, are typical fare. But, they are bad, with ugly fruit.

            We, as Americans, have a difficult challenge. Competition encourages, even demands, comparisons. When I was building houses, I observed the techniques of other builders and made choices about how to build, because of my observations. I often spoke to clients about the practices I would not engage in but I was careful to not mention names. However, a potential client could fill in names without much difficulty so I was being odious. I did not need to mention what I wouldn’t do; I could establish relationship with the client by just doing what I did. It was a thin line to walk. To remain true to Paul’s teaching here, I must say that he was referring to ministry. Are you a faithful servant of God? Do you make your decision by comparing your efforts to others? Or is your relationship with God entirely between you and God? When we compare to others, we can always find someone who is not doing well. We commend ourselves by them. That is odious. Compare yourself to the Word of God. Be confident in that. The Word is a mirror that we can see our hidden selves in. You can hide stuff from other people; but you cannot hide anything from God.