“But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another”
The answer to the self-sufficient person of verse three is self-examination.
But let each one examine his own work,
Arrogant people need to “examine” themselves. The word “examine” means to test something for the purpose of approval. The idea is to test something to find out whether it is genuine or not. When we expose ourselves to the objective Word of God, we can truly see ourselves for what we actually are. The Word is impartial and will not allow us to deceive ourselves. Rigorous self-judgment lets us see ourselves for what we truly are.
The word “work” means either our behavior or actions. The best way to be objective about ourselves is to examine our lives in light of the Bible. It is very easy to delude ourselves into thinking that we are a cut above others spiritually.
The present tense in “examine” means that we are to keep testing ourselves constantly. “Be diligent in testing yourself. Make accurate tests about yourself using the Word of God.”
and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone,
It is valid to rejoice in what God does through us. The true ground of our glory is strictly that which God does through us. The failure of others should give us no ground for glory. Criticizing others is no basis for building an honest life before God.
and not in another
Viewing others as lower than ourselves spiritually does not of necessity make us superior. It does us no good to lift ourselves by disparaging others. Comparing ourselves with others is not the issue; the issue is what we are truly in ourselves.
“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. However, we will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere that especially includes you. For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. But “he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:12-18).
Christians should never compare themselves with others. Legalists always seek to compare how much they do in comparison to others. Legalists love to push others down to lift themselves, but pushing others down does not lift them. Looking for a spiritual pygmy to measure yourself up against is not a noble goal! You cannot conclude that you are head and shoulders above other believers by this method. If we want to take a good measurement of where we stand, stand back to back with the Lord Jesus.
God requires that each of us examine ourselves so that we can be objective with ourselves.
The Word of God is the acid test to determine whether we are truly spiritual or not. That is why we must candidly allow the Word to serve as a standard to examine ourselves. None of us like the idea of God’s mark of red ink over much of what we are and do. We like to fancy ourselves without fault or flaw.
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).
Many Christians play the one-upmanship game: “My production is better than your production.” This always hurts the Christian life because anything that we do, we do by God’s grace. Much of what we do is based on our gifts [special supernatural endowments of grace], of which we cannot claim the credit. Moreover, it is God who determines how much He uses each of us.
“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
Much of our service for the Lord is religious shadow boxing. We think that we are doing God’s will, but we delude ourselves. What others say is irrelevant to God’s plan. The Devil will use other believers to get us off track.
They have no right to treat you that way, but they got you off track. You are bitter, sour, and cynical. Everything with you is sour grapes. Your soul has curdled.
This attitude will take you out of spiritual circulation. Some of you have not done anything for God in 20 years because the church did not applaud you properly for your service. You were not appreciated but criticized. The problem is that you serve people, not God. You are after applause, not service. That is why you quit and threw in the towel. In your spiritual retirement, the blessing of God passed you by. You can trace it all back to something someone said about you.