In his letter to the Corinthians Paul here is addressing a common malady among ministers, one seen with all too much frequency in today’s modern church. This is the issue of ‘Comparison.”
Such comparisons are seen with much clearer acuity as the church and her ministers advertise and announce meg-events on the social media. Some of these announcements by their design and flash can give the impression that Jesus is coming back center stage at the event. Promises are made that makes one question whether it is real or not, yet, at the same time underneath the “flash’ there breeds a hope that it is real and the offer stands true.
I would surmise that what undergirds the urge to promote rather than announce is the need to be recognized. This is too often accomplished by comparing one to another and Paul says, it’s a stupid thing to do so!
He puts it like this… “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.”
They are without understanding of the rudimentary fact that they have been assigned their task. It has not been earned nor competed for but assigned! Paul addresses this issue of comparing one to another because there is a basic failure to recognize that the ministry, the influence that you have has been assigned to you.
When one understands this, self-promotion no longer drives us. There is no need to fight to be recognized by enlarging your importance or putting down another’s. To understand your assignment puts the deathblow to “inter-tribal” competition and promotes trust among the saints. Coordination and harmony replace strife and jealousy. Men find the joy of the Oil on Aaron’s head. ()
Paul does not disregard boasting in its entirety. He suggests two areas in which boasting is proper: In the work you have been given (That fruit seen in those lives you are responsible for) and in the Lord Himself.
The right focus moves us from commending ourselves and competing with one another.
“For it is not the one who commends himself who is approves, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. (ESV)
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. (ESV)
133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes! (ESV)