We rarely give our best. Best requires effort beyond what anyone else would expect from us, even beyond what we expect from ourselves. All we expect from ourselves is to be better than bad. Bad is the unacceptable performance. Anything better than bad is good enough.
Problem is: the line we’ve drawn to indicate where bad begins isn’t fixed and is quite blurry. We’ve made it that way so we can always find a favorable point to make our comparisons. I may not be a good singer but as long as I find someone who is worse, then by comparison I’m better. If I’m better, then at least I’m not bad. I may not be good looking, but if I find someone less good looking then I am, I’m better. If I’m better, then at least I’m not bad.
Behavior is where we make the most comparisons. Forget for a minute that God has a standard of holiness held up to our lives, a standard that requires our best. Since I rarely give my best, I choose to ignore the standard and find another way to rate my life, usually other people. If I find someone whose actions are distasteful to me, then I have a great place to set the bar for my behavior. The things they are doing are things I wouldn’t do. And since I don’t do them, I’m better than they are.
If I do hold up God’s standard, I will typically place other’s behavior next to mine. If they are doing a worse job of it than I am, I’m better. If I’m better, then at least I’m not bad, so I must be okay.
I’m able to justify everything about my life through comparison to others. I don’t have to shoot for the best, just shoot for better than them. And even if I can’t find a way to be better than someone else, I can always accuse them of dishonesty or hypocrisy. One way or the other I’ll find a way to label myself as better. And if I’m better, then at least I’m not bad.
2CO 10:12 For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.