Saturday, 14 November 2015
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.
2 Corinthians 10:12
Paul has been speaking of the perception of him by some of those in Corinth. In the preceding verse he let them know that the person he is in his letters is who he will be in their presence. Understanding that, he says, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves.” The Geneva Bible notes that he is actually speaking in a taunting manner. The words form an assonance which is lost in English, but which reveals his demeanor towards those he is challenging.
In his words, but without doing so again, he alludes to the accusations of self-commendation that he has written about several times already. These are found in 2 Corinthians 3:1; 4:2; & 5:12. Here in this verse he doesn’t allude to these directly, but rather implicitly through the use of the words, “For we dare not…”
What is implied is that the people he is writing about, however, are doing just that. Continuing on, he says directly, “But they…” This is the instigators which have been the subject of his words and now they continue to be. It is they who spend their time “measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves.” They have set a false standard and then they have used that standard in order to make their evaluations of all others, including Paul and the other apostles.
His words do include a touch or irony though. By saying that he would never compare himself with those who commend themselves, he is actually doing just that. However it is in a taunt rather than in a direct manner. But there must always be a basis by which he can show them their folly and so the words are appropriate.
It seems certain that, as in several verses previously seen in this epistle, he has the book of Proverbs on his mind. On several occasions, Solomon writes about someone who is wise in their own eyes. One example which Paul may have been thinking of is verse 26:12 –
“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12
As, Charles Ellicott notes about Paul’s words –
“Of all such self-admiration—one might almost say, of all such autolatry—St. Paul declares, what the experience of all ages attests, that they who practise it ‘are not wise.’ They lose, as the Greek verb more definitely expresses it, all power of discernment.”
In their lack of discernment, they were looking at themselves and their accomplishments as superior to all others. In so doing, no one could ever meet their supposedly unattainable mark. The inevitable result is that they would condemn everyone around them as lowly and contemptible.
Life application: Proverbs is filled with wisdom for those who are willing to receive it. The problem with attempting to enlighten those who are wise in their own eyes is that they will never be able to see the true wisdom through their own self-idolizing glare.
Lord God, the Bible teaches us to not be wise in our own eyes. If we are, then we will never be able to receive true wisdom when it comes our way. Help us to be humble and meek in our opinions about ourselves and to realize that Your word was written by You, the One who fashioned us in the first place. Therefore, to pursue true wisdom, we need to turn to what You have provided. And what a superior word it is! Thank You for the heaps of wisdom which pour from every page. Thank you for it Lord. Amen.