Lesson 12


Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:1 So let a man think of us as Christ's servants, and stewards of God's mysteries. 4:2 Here, moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful. 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or by man's judgment. Yes, I don't judge my own self. 4:4 For I know nothing against myself. Yet I am not justified by this, but he who judges me is the Lord. 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise from God.


Today's Lesson 

The Corinthians had been squabbling among themselves. They were all trying to judge each other and make themselves out to be better than the rest. So Paul had set out to teach them a lesson. They followed people. One group proclaimed, "I follow Paul." Another, "I follow Apollos." Paul reminded them that all of God's fellow laborers work at the Father's behest and all praise and glory belong to God and not the men that do the work. All of God's work and wisdom comes to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit. It is God that works and saves. It is men that are worked upon and saved.

 

So Paul tells the Corinthians, don't think of us as leaders, think of us as Christ's servants. The men and women that are chosen to work with God are merely stewards that have been entrusted with God's mysteries. Those who work in God's service are not to be lionized or idolized. It is true they should be respected and emulated for what they allow God to accomplish through them, but they are not to be raised above the level of God's faithful servant. Not that that is a bad title at all. We should all aspire to the title of "God's Faithful Servant."

 

Now to the matter of faithfulness, Paul addresses himself as well. Knowing human nature as he does, Paul realizes that as soon as he writes that the stewards are required to be faithful there are some that question their faithfulness. Throughout religious history we see the same tendency repeated. When people want to deny the message, they try to deny the messenger. When people disagreed with them, they denied Jesus and they denied the prophets. In the same sense, Paul anticipates the tendency to deny what he has to teach them about divisions and rivalries in their assembly.

 

Paul tells them, "I don't allow anyone to judge me. I don't even judge myself. The Lord will judge me when His time comes and I am comfortable with His judgment." That's a paraphrase of this section, but I think it's an honest one. Paul knows that people are fickle. They can love you one minute and hate you the next. Many times in the book of Acts, Paul and the other missionaries were  shown to be receiving a nice reception into a town, only to be run out on a rail later in the same story. So, Paul learned in his travels not to rely on the judgments of men.

 

Paul knows though that God will judge him one day. In effect, through the work of the Spirit of God, Paul's life is constantly being judged. If the true measure of one's life is how you will be judged by God, then what matter is it what men think of you? Especially men who quibble and quarrel among themselves instead of being obedient to the Spirit of God that lives inside of them!

 

This is good advice for us all. Let us not be too concerned how other people judge us. Let us not even be overly concerned about how we judge ourselves. Instead, let the focus of our lives be in our concern with how we are judged by our Heavenly Father and by His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. For if we can please our Heavenly Father, we may one day earn the title of God's Faithful Servant.

 

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