…But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
— 2 Corinthians 10:12
Earlier in life, I struggled terribly with an inferiority complex. Inadequacy, insufficiency, incompetence, and deficiency are just a few words to express the feelings that tried to master my self-image. Today I want to share what I learned from that experience, as well as a great truth I found in my studies of Second Corinthians 10:12, which says, “…They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” I believe that the principle I discovered in this verse will help you if you’ve faced a similar struggle and you long to be free.
When our teaching ministry was first getting started, I wondered, Who will ever want to have us minister in their church or conference? Denise and I had been living in a small city and had very few contacts beyond our little circle, so it seemed like a logical question. On one hand, I knew that God had called us to teach His Word across the earth, but on the other hand, I questioned that call — how it would be fulfilled. No one knew who we were. No one had ever heard us teach the Bible. There was simply no logical reason for anyone to invite us to teach the Word in their churches or conferences.
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We began to schedule meetings in small churches all across the United States. We joyfully walked through every door and took every opportunity that opened for us, even accepting invitations to speak in home Bible studies. But frequently the enemy would bombard my mind with tormenting thoughts to inflame old feelings of insecurity: You’ll never do anything on a large or significant scale. Your entire ministry will be to small groups of people! When we got in the car to leave those meetings, I shared my struggling thoughts with Denise, and she’d try to encourage me. But the devil was hounding me with accusing thoughts of impending failure, telling me that I would be insignificant for the rest of my life.
I especially felt assaulted when we attended conferences or seminars to hear other speakers. Rather than be blessed, I vividly recall the devil telling me:
- “You don’t measure up to other speakers.”
- “You are nothing in comparison to them.”
- “Your style isn’t like theirs.”
- “You’ll live and die a failure because you are too different from everyone else and you’ll never be accepted.”
- “You ARE nothing and HAVE nothing to offer in comparison to others.”
I fell into the trap of measuring and comparing myself against others, with the end result of always feeling like I fell hopelessly short. The devil literally tried to devastate me with feelings of inadequacy, deficiency, and inferiority. The more I compared myself to others, the more I felt “less than” — that is, until God’s Spirit reached into my heart and set me free!
The reason I share this intimate struggle from my past is that I know there are many who compare themselves to others as I once did. That may be your struggle. If it is, today I want to share what I found in this scripture that helped set me free. I believe the principle I discovered in this verse will help set you free as well!
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he explained an important principle along this line: “…But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12). The word “wise” is the Greek word sophos, which means specially enlightened, wise, sharp, or bright. This means the verse could be interpreted: “Comparing yourselves among yourselves is not the sharpest or brightest thing to do!”
I can attest from personal experience that habitually comparing yourself to others is not the brightest thing to do. It can be a fruitless endeavor that makes you feel worse and even more inferior. The word “comparing” is the Greek word sunkrino, and it is the picture of two or more who stand side by side to thoroughly examine themselves in comparison to each other and then to critically judge who is superior among the candidates. One group is classified as superior, and the other is classified as inferior. It is a fleshly endeavor that produces no spiritual fruit. It elevates one and puts another down, and it fails to recognize the many diverse graces of God that exist within the Christian community.
The Corinthian believers were fighting among themselves to prove who was the greatest among them. When Paul wrote this verse, he wrote it to rebuke them for making such comparisons. They didn’t have a problem with inferiority, as I had struggled with earlier in life. They had an issue with feelings of superiority and were in fierce competition with each other. Paul wrote this verse to rebuke the Corinthian believers for making comparisons, exhorting them to stop their infighting as they tried to prove who was the most spiritual among them.
In the March 4 Sparkling Gem, we will address the ugly spirit of superiority that should never be permitted in a believer’s life. However, there is a principle in this verse that the Holy Spirit used to help set me free from a spirit of inferiority. So here is the point I want to get across to you today: God intentionally made you different from others. You are actually a result of His divine design. Your mannerisms, insights, and style that are different from others may be the very qualities that make you uniquely positioned to fulfill a specific need.
Of course, we all have areas in our lives that need to be changed, and God will show these to you one at a time. But if you will quit comparing yourself to others — if you will stop disparaging the very qualities that cause you to stand out from those around you — you’ll open the door to freedom from a spirit of inferiority so your unique gifts can begin to shine brightly as God intended.
The thing that personally bothered me most was that I felt so different from other people. In fact, the issue of feeling strange or “less than” others began when I was a child. Even when I was very young, I felt that I was different in comparison to others. While all the other boys were playing football, I was visiting museums. While other boys were talking about and watching baseball games, I was taking art lessons and visiting the symphony. Although it’s true I was different in many ways from my peers, that difference didn’t mean I was inferior to them. However, at that young moment in my life, the devil used those differences to sow harmful thoughts into my soul that something had to be wrong with me because I was different than others. Years later when I was an adult, this root was still affecting me as I fell into the trap of comparing myself to others and constantly feeling that I was too different to be accepted by them.
What I thought was a negative trait — being “different” from others — was the very thing that made me uniquely qualified to fulfill my call. When I finally understood that God was the One who made me different, I began to see that I could shine His light in ways that others could not. What I thought would hold me back is actually what gave me my place in His plan! When I began to accept who God made me to be, I was freed from the devil’s mental assault and began to step out of the shadows so God could begin to use me in a greater way. I was finally able to embrace my uniqueness that made me shine differently from others.
That can be your story too! You can make the decision today that you’re never going to go down that bumpy, twisted road of comparing yourself to others and always coming up short. Today you’re going to start celebrating the differences that make you uniquely you!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the ways in which You made ME unique and different from others. Forgive me for the times I’ve struggled with being different. Now I understand that my differences distinguish me from others. You specially made me to fulfill a role no one else can fulfill. I accept what You have made me to be, and, Holy Spirit, I surrender my life to You. I ask You to help me present all that I am to the Father, changing what needs to be changed, so that my life will bring glory to Jesus Christ.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that what I am, I am by the grace of God and that He didn’t make any mistakes in the way He made me! He gifted me with talents, emotions, humor, insights, perspectives, and unique qualities that set me apart from others. My differences are some of the most positive attributes in my life, and I will not reject myself anymore simply because I am different. Being different puts me in a special category that I will no longer despise, but will use for the glory of God!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you struggled with being “different” from others? In what ways do you think you are different from other people?
- After reading today’s Sparkling Gem, can you see how being unique puts you in a category of your own? Why not take a few minutes to write down the ways that being unique is a positive factor in your life?
- How can you maximize your uniqueness? Every product is known because it has something to offer that other products do not offer. What do you have to offer that distinguishes you from other people?