WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – There are many opinions about how well you are serving God; some positive, some negative, none well-informed. There is only one assessment which matters in the long run, and that is God’s. We all realize that. What many have not yet learned is that the same is true in the short run: the only opinion of your service which matters is that of the One you are serving. New levels of contentment and security await those who figure that out.
The believers at Corinth hadn’t figured it out. Their carnal leaders’ competition for prominence and the followers’ enthusiasm in supporting their favorite’s claims had weakened the church and stunted their spiritual growth. Paul tried to correct this in today’s passage:
“We don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.…So ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.” (2 Cor. 10:12, 17-18)
Comparison involves outward struggle to appear better than others and inward struggle at not measuring up. Neither is worth the effort. If you could convince everyone, including yourself, that you were best at everything, you wouldn’t rise one little notch in God’s sight. Paul reminds us of Jeremiah’s message: “This is what the LORD says: The wise person should not boast in his wisdom; the strong should not boast in his strength; the wealthy should not boast in his wealth. But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows Me – that I am the LORD” (Jer. 9:23-24). Knowing Christ as Lord is our only legitimate “claim to fame,” and we should cherish it.
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – At a pivotal time in my early ministry, I found myself in a pressure cooker of expectations. I’d just graduated from seminary, left the beloved teens I’d led for four years as a Youth Pastor, and arrived at my first solo pastorate. Everyone, including me, had ideas of how I should handle the transitions, and many of those expectations were at cross purposes with one another. I realized that I couldn’t fully please any of us, much less all of us, and I came to God with this plea:
Lord, if You’ll allow me to please You,
I won’t try to please anyone else.
I almost heard Him say, “Finally!”
That prayer brought a peace that has guarded my heart for 43 years now (well, except for the thousand interruptions when I left that first love and tried to please myself or others). I’ve prayed it many times, and the Lord has always honored it. He renewed it recently in a little different form: Let all that I do be only for You.
If you’re still caught on the comparison treadmill and have noticed you’re not getting anywhere, you might consider getting off. Please consider adopting the attitude beneath these prayers, and maybe the prayers themselves. It’s not that we’re uninterested in what others want and need; it’s that we’re supremely interested in what our Lord wants – the One who knows exactly what everyone needs and has the actual ability to provide it. As we remove our egos from the mix, He is at liberty to use us in His strategies to richly meet those needs in ways that He knows best.