Religious Competition
Another common corruption of spirituality involves people competing to be more pious than those around them. Aside from the fact that this is generally done on a very superficial level, where it's just the perception of spirituality that is at stake, there is a deeper issue. In what sense are we more spiritual if we can convince others that we are more spiritual than they? This actually has nothing to do with spirituality. We might merely feel better about ourselves if we look better than those around us. But that doesn't actually make us better people — it just makes us feel better, which is purely selfish, and at the expense of other people's feelings. It is a simple fact of human nature that we usually measure ourselves relative to other people, and this might lead us to put others down if it makes us feel higher. But it is better to judge ourselves compared to our potential, and to let God tell us whether or not we are doing the right thing. Then we might build up the people around us instead of putting them down, and then we might actually be better people.
It should also be noted that religious competition can be used to manipulate people. Confronted with a saint who would like a new car, we might struggle to feel good about ourselves, and we might lose the competition so miserably that the only way of regaining our senses of self-worth is to reach for our checkbooks. But before we do, we might first wonder if the sainthood is superficial. For a scam artist, seeming to be a saint from a distance is not hard — it's just a way of talking that makes otherwise normal things sound great. To see through such people, we should look carefully at what they actually do. Frauds are not famous for the diligence that it takes to actually do God's work on Earth. We might also wonder if the saint actually needs a new car, or if she simply wants a new car. And we might also ask whether or not new cars have anything to do with spirituality.

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