1 Corinthians 4 (Part I)
In public speaking courses, one of the first things taught is speaking with confidence and authority. The speaker needs to know what he or she is talking about and needs to convey this authority to the audience. As a parent, I often have to speak with authority, not just knowing what I am talking about but with a tone that indicates to my children that I am the one in charge. In chapter 4 of 1 Corinthians, we see Paul speaking with authority to the people in Corinth. He identifies himself as their "spiritual father" and he speaks with the authority of a father to his children. There is a sense of frustration in Paul’s writing with the people of Corinth and there is a bit of rebuking that takes place throughout this letter.
“As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
Paul says he doesn’t care what they or anyone thinks of him. The only one who can and will evaluate Paul and the only one whose opinion Paul cares about is the Lord. Just imagine hearing that from someone. “I don’t care what you or anyone thinks of me.” Paul is speaking with authority and indicating that he knows whose opinion really matters. We shouldn’t care what the world thinks of us, only what God thinks of us and what we are doing. What does God think of what you are doing? Is He pleased? Does He see that you are pursuing the nature of the Spirit over the sinful nature? Are you exhibiting and growing in the fruits of the Spirit each day?
“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)
Look at the first sentence of verse 5 again: “So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time….” What time? “Before the Lord returns.” This is important for us today because we are still living in that time in which Paul says we should not make judgments about anyone. Not until the Lord returns because when He does He will bring everyone’s darkest secrets to light and everything will be revealed. No one will be able to judge anyone when their darkest secrets are out. God will do the judging.
On Friday, we will finish chapter 4 of 1 Corinthians and see how the apostles lived by the fruits of the Spirit and why we need to grow in them and live by them each day. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.