2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
We all know what the verse says, and no doubt it means exactly what it says, but you’ve got to admit that it’s easy to fall into this trap of making improper comparisons – oftentimes without even realizing that you’re doing it. Now, since it’s an unwise thing to do and we as Christians are commanded to “be not unwise” (Ephesians 5:17), it’d be a good thing for us to identify and give some thought to some of the unwise comparisons we’re prone to make.
The world. To most Christians, the idea of “standards” means I live one notch above the rest of the world. I would never go to the beach in a bikini; no, I wear a one-piece. We don’t allow our kids to watch R-rated movies; they’ve never seen anything worse than PG-13. Pop music is of the devil. We jam to Christian contemporary. Church attendance is important. That’s why we’re there almost every Sunday morning. You get the point.
There are 2 obvious flaws in this very popular way of thinking:
(1) We are not called to adhere to the standards of morality and righteousness as dictated by society; we are to submit ourselves to the holy commands of a holy God as communicated in His holy word. We are to look into the perfect law of liberty and continue therein (James 1:27).
(2) The fact that the line of what is considered “acceptable” dress, behavior, music, entertainment, etc. keeps getting pushed further and further away from the word of God means that a Christian who thinks he’s separated and godly because he’s not as bad as the heathen living around him at the moment finds himself further from the word of God than even lost people would have been not 60 years ago. God’s line doesn’t move. What was right is still right; what was wrong is still wrong. Amen.
Other young people. Regrettably, it’s increasingly rare to be a teen with any true level of interest in living a life of service to the Lord Jesus Christ. The danger of being one of the select few is the fact that it becomes incredibly easy to be satisfied with where you are in your Christianity because anyone with any spiritual sense would have to admit that you’re way further along than all the rest of the duds in your youth group. But you’ve got to remember that’s no indication that you’re anywhere close to reaching the potential of what you could be and should be for the Savior. The mark that you’re pressing toward isn’t standing out above all the rest (really not all that hard) but being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (a life-long endeavor that requires a continual commitment to growth).
Your parents. I thank God for every mom and dad who bring their kids to the church house, but honestly, if the young people in our churches only get as dedicated to the work of God as most of their parents are, the church is sunk. Young person, your parents’ lack of interest in spiritual things is no excuse to disobey God’s commandment to obey and honor them, but it’s also no excuse to adopt their lack of interest in spiritual things. Your parents’ lack of interest in obeying God’s word doesn’t exempt you from doing what you know the Bible says. Mommy and Daddy won’t be there to hold your hand on judgment day. Every one of us shall give account of HIMSELF to God (Romans 14:12).
Your pastor. As a youth pastor, it is my heart’s desire to be able to say to every young person at THE BIBLE Baptist Church, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). My daily prayer is that God would help me set an example that would point others to Jesus Christ. But guess what. I’m a (saved) imperfect, fault-laden, mistake-making sinner. And I’m a pretty lousy benchmark. Shame on me when I sin. But you can pretty much count on the fact that I will. It’d be unwise to use my life as a measuring stick of spirituality.
The ultimate goal is to be like Christ. The standard of righteousness is God’s word. Each and every one of us will have to answer to God alone for what we did with the truth He’s given us. Lord, help us to keep this in mind and go on with a life that pleases you.
Follow hard after God (Psalm 63:8).