Tuesday: From Comparison to Complement
avatar

As we saw in an earlier lesson, the church at Corinth had deep problems.

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

What principles does Paul outline in 1 Corinthians 3:5-1112:1-11, and 2 Corinthians 10:12-15 for healing and restoration, all of which are so vital to revival and reformation?

In these passages, the apostle outlines critical principles of church unity. He points out that Jesus uses different workers to accomplish different ministries in His church, even though each one is laboring together for the building up of God’s kingdom(1 Cor. 3:9).

God calls us to cooperation, not competition. Each believer is gifted by God to cooperate in ministering to the body of Christ and serving the community (1 Cor. 12:11). There are no greater or lesser gifts. All are necessary in Christ’s church (1 Cor. 12:18-23). Our God-given gifts are not for selfish display. They are given by the Holy Spirit for service.

All comparisons with others are unwise, because they will make us feel either discouraged or arrogant. If we think that others are far “superior” to us, we will feel despondent when we compare ourselves to them. If we think our labors for Christ are more effective than the work of others, we will feel proud. Both of these attitudes cripple our effectiveness for Christ. As we labor within the sphere of influence that Christ has given us, we will find joy and contentment in our witness for Christ. Our labors will complement the efforts of other members, and the church of Christ will make giant strides for the kingdom.

Can you think of someone whose gifts in ministry have made you jealous? (Not too hard, is it?) At the same time, how often have you felt proud of your gifts in contrast to those of others? The point is, Paul’s concerns are an ever-present reality in fallen beings. Regardless of the side on which we fall, how can we learn the unselfish attitudes that are necessary in order to avoid the pitfalls here?

Share Button

Comments

Tuesday: From Comparison to Complement — 20 Comments

  1. [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting. Thank you.]

    When we remember that we are all equals in the eyes of God, we will be both humble and uplifted.

    Like(7)
  2. I think that in modern Christianity we have largely ignored this warning against comparing ourselves one with another. In the West, at least, competition is in the very air we breathe. It is the lifeblood of capitalism.

    Yet in Christ's kingdom it is not to be so. Mutual respect and cooperation is to be the rule. He said that the "greatest" among us is to be our servant. (Matt 23:11) That's turning the world's values upside-down, and only the Holy Spirit can implant those values in our hearts, as we daily submit to Him.

    Like(36)
    • I believe we need to be very prayerful particularly in these last days because prayer and Bible study are our only sources of strength. The devil knows that his days are almost done and so he will use whatever means to unsettle us so that we either become jealouse of others or indeed proud of ourselves.
      Prayer for self and others is vital in these very last days.

      God bless

      Like(12)
    • Thank you Inge

      honestly speaking, we like comparing ourselves with each other is one thing we need to get rid of. for instance I have pastor in our church comparing with each other about who has a big gathering during the crusade or who preaches better. for us members of the church this time as choose the nominating committee to appoint people that are going work in vain yard, others refuse positions that God has given them like a serving elder this year is appointed t serve as an usher next year, they refuse because they feel they can only serve better an elder not as an usher. As singers we normally feel we can sing better than these or those in that congregation. Comparison has to be replaced with compliment and when that happens, there's going to be unity in our church, then reformation and revival will follow.

      Like(7)
      • I'm totally familiar with your church situation, people at my church does not understand the concept of being a servant for God, they take nomination as a political campaign and take church positions to boost their egos. It is sad that see that they always compare themselves to other Christians, whether it's by Material or educational means. As people commented before satan knows our weaknesses and he is using our egos to create division among the church. He knows a weak or divided church is a recipe for disaster, he keeps us busy to keep us from doing the work of God.

        Like(5)
  3. When I was a student (which was not all that long ago) I was frequently involved in group projects. Often I had no choice as to who was in the group and it usually took a while to get the group to work cohesively. The success of these projects typically depended on developing collaboration skills (which was the point of group projects). In the first couple of sessions we would ask one another what their particular strengths were and then we would assign tasks based on that analysis. Sometimes we would find that a fellow student had an inflated opinion about what they could do and they would do their part badly. It involved considerable skill to redirect such students to what they were good at.

    Collaboration is an important skill and once you get over the idea that your work will be critiqued by others, collaboration becomes a normal part of your work practice. On some occasions I have had students working with me whose understanding of what we were supposed to be doing was less than robust. Rather than booting them out of the project the rest of us would gather around that student and coach them so that they could contribute.

    Collaboration on the Christian pathway is also important. We often speak of the "community of believers" and I think that calls to mind the lessons learned from group project work. Sharing the tasks, finding one anothers strengths and weaknesses, and encouraging those who find things difficult. I know that salvation is an individual thing, but we should never forget that we do have a role to play in encouraging and collaboration. We are not alone - we are in this together!

    Like(18)
  4. The temptation to fall prey to the spirit of competition and comparison is one which every Christian called to any form of ministry or blessed with any form of Spiritual Gift or Talent must pray and guard against.
    None of us are immune to this spirit, and there's no other vaccination against this than daily prayer and submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit in both lifestyle and ministry.
    Only God can deliver us from this deadly pitfall.

    Like(8)
    • I agree with what you are saying but I would like to add what Maurice Ashton said, "I know that salvation is an individual thing, but we should never forget that we do have a role to play in encouraging and collaboration. We are not alone - we are in this together!"

      We need to help and not hinder others seeking the kingdom of heaven. We work together and encourage each other and the Holy Spirit will convict each one of us as we are willing to receive.

      Like(3)
  5. The lesson states: "There are no greater or lesser gifts. All are necessary in Christ’s church."
    I think that we are missing the point that Paul is trying to make by reading our own "democratic, Western" ideas into what Paul is saying. Paul himself admits that there are greater gifts, (1 Corin. 12:31) so there are greater and lesser gifts. But he states that the gifts are INTERDEPENDENT, the same way the eye needs the hands and the head the foot. But the eye is greater than the hands.

    For Paul, prophecy is the most valuable gift. (1 Corin. 14:1,5,12,24)

    So there are lesser and greater beings (angels, humans), body parts (head, feet) but they all work TOGETHER. While we are admonished to desire the best gifts, we should remember that we need support from the lesser gifts.

    Like(1)
    • Ray, I believe you are correct and I think the lesson made an unintended slip on that point. As I see it the lesson is about being cooperative rather than competitive where people try to outdo each other and harbor feelings of superiority. Such feelings usually get people to lord it over others which wasn't what Christ wanted among His disciples (Mat 20:25-28). Paul knew the Corinthian church was very divisive and that it needed to see the value of everyone in the church, that no one was more important than anyone else. I believe that was the lesson that was intended rather than saying that all gifts have the same effect in the church.

      Like(3)
    • Ray, perhaps "democratic, Western" people need to be spoken to in "democratic, Western" language in order to understand the point that Paul was trying to make - that we are not to compare ourselves one with another. To our own Master we stand and fall (Ro 14:4). He expects us to serve Him according to the talents which He gives us. The one who makes good use of two talents is praised as much as the one who makes good use of his five talents (Matt 25:19-21).

      Like(2)
      • I perfectly agree. Note that in the parable they did not all have the same number of talents. Some had more than others. This is what we need to be comfortable with--some had more than others. They were not the same (quantity). The gifts are not the same either. Some are more important than others. All necessary, but some more important.

        Like(1)
  6. I think that as Christians labor for the Master, they use the gifts and talents given for a particular purpose. All that we posses is not our own and for our glory, but to glorify our Savior Jesus and to fulfill our mission as a church. It is interesting why God imparts different abilities to different people as he sees the need of them. This suggests that the omniscient creator God gives the gifts that he needs to fulfill a certain area in his work and mission. The very act that everyone has different abilities suggests that everyone has an important role or contribution to make, and everyone needs the others to complement each other in the important work of God. The apostle Paul's illustration of the body with it's many parts that need each other to make a complete whole, shows that Christians need each other to complement each other and to finish the work and mission of the body of Christ "the church." Knowing that the holy spirit works all things through all its instrumentalities, lets me know that the glory must go to God and not to people. The knowledge that all of us are in the labor and mission of the church together should should create an attitude of cooperation and connection with God and with each other.

    Like(3)
  7. Yes God has called us to unity so that together we can build up His Kingdom.The problem is that there is so much discord in our Church today because of jealousy for someone else s position and we seriously need to get rid of this .Remember we are all laborers together with Christ and we should all unite for one cause which is building up the Kingdom of God.

    Like(1)
  8. [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting. Thank you.]

    I truely agree with all the comments and thank God they are really reviving...we should be careful as christians not to be comparing preachers.whose the best or whose not?.The danger is that we will miss the spiritual messege presented before us..This was the case btwn paul and apollos..

    Like(0)
  9. This is where Paul's admonition is of vital importance. We need to 'die daily' to self. Sometimes even the way in which we accept compliments borders on arrogance. We become puffed up instead of giving the glory to God. My prayer is that as Christians we will always like Paul remember Who gives the increase. (And this is in everything)

    Like(5)
  10. It is true that for any task to succeed given to any group of people, there should exist among themselves, unity,cooperation and complimentary work.
    Let us remember that we under great controversy, sandiwitched between two forces, one force for purification and the other for corruption. We should also be weary that the devil is in these last days is using men and women of high learning and influence, men and women of high positions in our churhes to sow a seed of discord among members.
    I beleive there will not come a time when the church will be united. There will always be some of opposing influnce. This fact is affirmed in Matt 13.
    The only time when the church will come to unity is after purification.We need to strive with all power God has given us to be wheat before purification so that when that time comes to rid the church of tares, we won't be us the tares, removed. Therefore, revial and refoemation should be on an individual basis, moreover the church is made up of individual persons.
    Brethren let us not cheat ourselves that we have to wait until the church will come into for things to move according to the inteded will of God, that time will never come.
    This is a church militant, some will fall by the way side.
    God help us to realise the reason why we are still alive!

    Like(1)
  11. Paul has some really great advice for church harmony in his letter to the Thessalonians in 1 Thess 5 11-18.

    Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

    Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

    Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

    Paul knew the recipe of cooperative collaborative Christianity. It is worth writing up as our "operational plan"!

    Might be a good idea to read it to church boards just before they start discussing building plans.

    Like(0)
  12. The will of God for us is crystal clear in His Holy Word and we must possess a right contextual knowledge of His will for us. All His Principles must be embedded in the heart and be a reference point in all our endeavors and behaviors. If Christ is abiding in us, we will not yield to the spirit of competition and self exaltation, but rather we recognize each others gifts and talents and contribute in encouraging and building each other up in the Lord. I must add, the tragedy of this spirit of competition and arrogancy was manifested in heaven by Lucifer, the highest Angel that God created, when he decided to exalt himself to be equal with God, and God humbled him and cast him out of heaven and now awaiting his eternal doom. God demonstrated His loving will by His only begotten Son. He humbled Himself into a form of a man and died the shameful death of the Cross and now Jesus is exalted to the right side of the Father's Throne. The Scripture reminds us; "he that exalt himself will be humbled, but he that humble himself will be exalted." May this be our constant reminder as we serve God's Will in the church and the world. Let us build each other up in the Lord. Cheers!!!

    Like(1)

What do you think? If you like a comment, just [Like] it or post a thoughtful reply. Please provide a working email address and your real first AND last name to have your comment published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.