The Comparison Game

Unfortunately one of the things I instinctively do when I walk into a room is to stack rank myself. I start trying to figure out the hierarchy of the people so I know my place and what’s expected of me. I once worked for a company whose culture was built on comparison. They pitted employee against employee, store against store, district against district and region against region. It may have been good for sales, but not for relationships. We were constantly looking down on others, talking trash and looking for ways to beat them. They preached unity from the top, but in the trenches is was every person for themselves. There were always reports going out with stack ranking. How you compared with others was clearly show. In black and white every day.

In the Early Church, there was a similar problem. People were comparing themselves to other Christians and churches compared themselves against other churches. It mattered who baptized you or who led you to Jesus in their eyes. When Paul got wind of it, he tried to put a stop to it. In 1 Corinthians 3:4 he addressed them, “When one of you says, ‘I am a follower of Paul,’ and another says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ aren’t you acting just like people of the world?” (NLT) He reminded them that he and Apollos were just men. To compare themselves to each other by who they followed was foolish because they were just people. It’s Jesus that we should be following.

In order to set them straight, a few verses later he wrote, “The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.” We’re not in competition with one another. We’re co-laborers, not competitors. Yet we find ourselves in the same battles today that the Early Church did. We think our denomination is better than yours. Our pastor is better. I’m better. It’s all comparison against a people who are merely servants of God. When we compare ourselves against Him, it’s obvious we fall short. That’s why we go against others. It’s time we quit the comparison game and started working together as one body. Paul reminded us here that while we have different roles, it’s ultimately God who blesses our work and causes seeds to grow giving a harvest.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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