We won’t dare to place ourselves in the same league or to compare ourselves with some of those who are promoting themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they have no understanding.
13 We won’t take pride in anything more than what is appropriate. Let’s look at the boundaries of our work area that God has assigned to us. It’s an area that includes you. 14 We aren’t going out of bounds, as if our work area doesn’t extend as far as you. We were the first ones to travel as far as Corinth with the gospel of Christ. 15 We don’t take pride in what other people do outside of our boundaries. We hope that our work will be extended even more by you as your faith grows, until it expands fully (within the boundaries, of course). 16 We hope that our work grows even to the point of the gospel being preached in places beyond Corinth, without bragging about what has already been done in another person’s work area. 17 But, the one who brags should brag in the Lord.[a] 18 It isn’t the person who promotes himself or herself who is approved but the person whom the Lord commends.
In other versions of this scripture, the heading of 2 Corinthians 10 reads, “Paul’s Defends his Ministry.” (See the NIV version.) Ironically, this subtitle seems to fly in direct opposition to the true meaning of this part of the text. Our faith isn’t about what Paul’s done or what anyone else does.
Instead, I wonder if this scripture is like the apostle Paul saying, “For the love of God, people, stop comparing or worrying about who does what!” In other words, stop judging and comparing. Stop boasting about who has done which activities in God’s name. Maybe it is just typical human behavior that compels us to compare ourselves to one another.
I can’t help but also think of Jesus’ disciples arguing back and forth about which disciple was the greatest (See Luke 22:24-27). It seems like many believers think that they should also adhere to some idyllic and impossible model of Christianity. At times, aren’t we worried for our own salvation, and so we continue to compare ourselves to others? However, through the meaning of this passage, we know that our comparisons are not what God is looking for from us.
God simply wants us to be uniquely connected to God’s Self. God wants us to seek and do better as ourselves, and not like anyone else. So instead, we focus our connection on Our Lord and then on doing God’s work in the world. Let’s celebrate God’s work, however and wherever it happens. As Paul says in verse 16, “We hope our work grows even to the point of the gospel being preached in places beyond Corinth, without bragging about what has already been done.” It doesn’t matter who gets the earthly credit, or however God’s word grows. Instead we boast about what God has done. We celebrate the fact that God’s work grows, however and wherever it can.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
When and what Christian comparison do you catch yourself making? If you boast, can you boast about the ways and wonders of God in your life?
Holy God, Staying in a relationship with you is what I want to aspire to. May I know you with my whole heart. If I brag, let me brag about all the ways my relationship to you has changed my life. Oh Lord, let me praise your holy ways, however and whenever I see them all around. Amen.