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. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. — 2 Corinthians 10:12-13
Several years ago, I worked at the headquarters of a major retail company. Our department was responsible for making sure that the vendors who sold products to this retailer complied with specific standards and regulations set forth in the Vendor Operations Manual. Each vendor was issued a periodical report card stating its degree of compliance with the retailer’s expectations.
For instance, clothing vendors were required to use a specific hanger for all the clothing items they sold to this retailer. There were times when clothing vendors would attempt to use a hanger that was comparable to what other retailers used, but did not meet the standards of the operation manual. When this occurred, they would receive a warning, and if they still did not comply, they would be issued a penalty. If they continued to use a hanger that was substandard, they would be disqualified as vendors.
In our focus verses, Paul was warning the believers at the Corinthian church not to judge themselves according to their own standards or by what others did, but to examine whether they were conducting themselves according to God’s standards. There were some false teachers who claimed that they could do a better job of leading the Corinthian church than Paul could, but Paul stated that he did not need to boast about or measure his accomplishments against their allegations. He had received his authority from God, and his track record proved that God was blessing his efforts.
Comparing ourselves with other Christians instead of God’s Word may cause us to think we are better than someone else, or it could result in having standards that are lower than what God wants for us. We could think that because someone else is doing it, it must be okay. On the other hand, when we use God’s Word as our determining factor, we can examine ourselves to see if our lives measure up to God’s standards, and if our lives reflect Jesus Christ.
False teachers were trying to divide the Corinthian church by stating that Paul was authoritative in his letters, but weak and unimpressive in person. In chapters 10-13, Paul endeavored to respond to these charges and convince the Corinthian church that his authority came from God. He said that his methods were not carnal or man-made, but were given by God to fight against Satan’s strongholds. Paul reminded his readers that Christ was also gentle and meek in His appearance, and this was the attitude that Paul wanted to impart to the Corinthian church. Any boasting that he did was meant to lift up Christ, not himself. Paul stated that it was not the outward appearance that was important, but whether one belonged to Christ.
Paul was the first person to bring the Gospel to the Corinthians. Verse 10 could have implied that Paul had some difficulties with his speech and was not the most powerful preacher, but he was obedient to God’s call to introduce the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Paul rebuked the false teachers who were attempting to prove their worthiness by comparing themselves with others instead of with God’s standards. Paul had no desire to compete against the false teachers who were trying to undermine his authority. Paul’s responsibility was to preach the Gospel to the Corinthians, and as their faith increased and they grew spiritually, he would be able to go into other regions to spread the Gospel.
The Corinthians had a tendency to glory in man, which allowed the false teachers to come into the church and cause division. Paul told the church to glory in the Lord. It is not the one who commends himself that is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The authority of the Apostle
A. The approval of the Apostle (10:1-18)
1. By his attitudes (10:1-6)
2. By his authority (10:7-11)
3. By divine commendation (10:12-18)
Pleasing God and making sure we are measuring up to His standards should be our goal.