We understand that we are to examine ourselves in the weeks preceding Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Sometimes, however, we miss the purpose for the examination. Consider these two scriptures in relation to self-examination:
» Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (II Corinthians 13:5)
» For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (II Corinthians 10:12)
If we are not careful in this, we can easily fall into two snares, both of which center on the self.
The most obvious one, expressed in II Corinthians 10:12, is that we will judge ourselves in light of other people. This fatal trap deceitfully provides us with self-justification for the way we are. The result is that we will not change or grow because we will be judging according to our own standards—and why change perfection? Self-examination by our own code produces self-righteousness.
The other dangerous snare occurs when our self-examination is so rigorous that we become very depressed and feel salvation is impossible. This is just as utterly self-indulgent as the other! This "woe is me" approach is a not-too-subtle blast against God's judgment and grace for calling us and making things so difficult for us!
Anyone who compares himself to others is not exhibiting faith in God. He is telling God that His Son's life means little to him. Likewise, anyone who feels so morose with guilt that he threatens not to take the Passover is not exhibiting faith in God. He is telling God that He is unable to forgive that much.
At Passover, our focus should be on the payment for sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God in His grace is willing to forgive our transgressions on the basis of Christ's death. During Unleavened Bread, the focus shifts to overcoming sin and coming out of this world through God's power, which is also part of His grace. At Passover, it is the grace of God to justify us through Christ's blood. At Unleavened Bread, it is the grace of God to sanctify us as we move toward His Kingdom and glorification.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover
The first-century apostles divided the world into spheres, or areas, of responsibility and did not encroach into another's sphere. In doing so, they avoided throwing the church into needless confusion about whom members should look for authority.
We often hear people say, "I think I should go with So-and-so because he is doing this." Another says, "No, I think we should go with Mr. So-and-so because he believes this and is doing that." I Corinthians 1:12-13 says, "Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of Apollos,' or 'I am of Cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
John W. Ritenbaugh
Who Is Doing the Work of God?
Paul speaks of those who were creating division, the false prophets who were dividing one group against the other within the congregation. They were comparing righteousness by evaluating themselves against each other. Paul says, "Don't do that."
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 3): Ephesians 4 (A)
Apparently, the Corinthians to whom Paul was writing commonly compared themselves with each other. They not only made false ministers the standard to follow, but they also made themselves and their peers standards of righteousness.
Many of the Corinthians were graphic examples of pride and complacency. Occasionally, we also suffer the pride that causes us to compare ourselves among ourselves because it is so deeply ingrained in our human nature to evaluate ourselves by human standards.
A professing Christian who, in his own eyes, sets himself up as the standard of righteousness, will compare himself to others who appear to him to be less spiritual than himself. His views are the standard of righteousness, and his ways of worship are the models of proper devotion. His habits and customs are—in his own estimation—perfect. He looks on himself as the true measure of spirituality, humility, and zeal, and he condemns others for failing to rise to his level. He judges everything by his own benchmark: himself.
Each of us lives under a unique set of circumstances. We are working on different problems, growing at various rates on diverse character traits. We experience dissimilar trials and have been influenced by our environment in distinctive ways. A true and accurate comparison is impossible by another human being. It misses the mark of perfection according to the truth of God. Only God can truly judge a person, for only He can judge the heart and observe the entire picture.
We know that it is our responsibility to examine ourselves intensely before Passover, and the Days of Unleavened Bread teach that we must rid our lives of the leaven of sin. However, comparing ourselves among ourselves does not accomplish the goal God has in mind for us, that is, the total renewing of our minds. Individual comparisons deter us from overcoming our problems because it causes us to aim too low and in the wrong direction. It deceitfully provides us with self-justification for the way we are. The result is no change and no growth. This is judgment according to our own standards and the standards of the created rather than the Creator.
In athletics, it is commonly understood that, if a person competes only with athletes of equal or lesser ability and skill, he cannot improve his ability and skill above theirs because he will not strive to improve. This is the principle of Proverbs 27:17: "iron sharpens iron." Whether it is an individual sport like tennis or a team sport like volleyball or basketball, skills are sharpened by pushing oneself to exceed the skill of the other person or team. This principle works just as effectively in spiritual matters. Only if we set our sights higher than mere humanity (Colossians 3:1-2) will we ever attain godly character.
Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves