Understandably, in v.12, he remarked: "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." This is a timeless truth.
In our own era, statements of unpleasant comparison are spoken with maddening frequency:
'Why can't you be more like ___?'
'I bet ___would have done this better/more quickly/with more style.'
Comparison games are alive and well in our time. "People compare preachers and teachers, church philosophies and orders of service, soloists and song leaders, personalities and prayers, wives and mothers, families and friends, homes and cars, salaries and jobs, scholarship and salesmanship, husbands and fathers, weights and worries, luxuries and limitations. That's odious!"--Charles Swindoll
Comparison games are odious, in part, because they often result in an inflated view of one's personal worth by condemning other people as being inferior.
Paul was deemed inferior by a segment of the Corinthian church because he failed to measure up to 'more impressive' personalities in the church. In comparison with these high profile personalities, Paul was 'a loser'--- despite the fact that Jesus Himself chose Paul to the gospel ministry (Acts 9).
Comparison games inevitably breed conceit---an overblown sense of personal superiority. At its center, conceit involves fascination with one's supposed greatness/intelligence,etc. Prov.26:12 - "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”.
Human conceit also extends to other fallible human beings (preachers, leaders, educators, media personalities) who are worshiped in place of the Lord Jesus Christ. An idol is an idol, whether it’s a denomination or a fellow human being. We can appreciate fellow servants of Christ---but we are not to fall to our knees and worship them.
Sadly, some first-century Christians languished in conceit. Paul warned the Galatians: "Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another" (Gal.5:26).
Paul communicated: When people indulge in comparison games, "comparing themselves with themselves, they are not wise." Elsewhere, he stated: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers."--Eph.4:29 (KJV)
Comparison games inevitably breed resentment and self-centered ambition. Have you noticed that the longing to be perceived as 'the best' at something tends to bring out the WORST in many people?
A friend posted a Facebook quotation: "Comparison is the thief of joy."
Think of all the joy robbed from people who compare themselves unfavorably with others. Ponder your own comparison games that create and expand a self-imposed condemnation: "Those people are superior to me in some way(s); therefore, I'm a loser, I'm a failure; I’m nothing."
Bottom line: There are people on this planet smarter than you are, more athletic than you are, more handsome/attractive than you are, more financially prosperous than you are. But, God will never hold any of that against you. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8:1). “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom.8:31)
We need to get beyond comparison games because they are petty, superficial games. We do well to prayerfully jettison the childish mentalities which bolster these games.
Scripture never commands Christians to play silly games with each other. We are summoned to a very different standard. Jesus said: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). Likewise, Rom.12:10- "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another." Furthermore, 1 John 3:18- "My children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." The trademark of an authentic Christian disciple is Love, not juvenile comparison games.
There is a form of comparison, however, which is spiritually appropriate: Comparing others to Jesus. The Son of God is the unique God-man. He suffered and died and rose from the dead; He is victorious Lord. He is superior to Mohammad, Buddha, L.Ron Hubbard, Jon Stewart and any other religious/idealogical leader or pundit who can be named. He is the Best Friend we could ever hope to have. He is the Best Prince of Peace. He is the Best King. If Jesus is indeed the BEST, why should you waste any time or energy troubling yourself about who might be second-best?
Compare yourself to Jesus. Evaluate your life in comparison with His sinless life. Scrutinize your inability to fully obey God in comparison with Jesus' success in always pleasing God (John 8:29). Contemplate the Crucified Son of God Who was sacrificed in behalf of inadequate, inferior, sinful people of faith.
And, fall to your knees in worship.