Or You Too Will Be Judged
Lord, open my heart before You so that You can make me who You want me to be.
Read 1 Corinthians 4:1–21
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
Paul’s Appeal and Warning
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectJesus advised against judging others. Do you ever feel “judged”? Or do you think you ever “judge” others?
It’s almost impossible to be in a situation of carping bitterness or critical spiritedness without feeling yourself somehow under attack.
That certainly seems to be Paul’s experience with respect to the Corinthian church. Look for the evidence of his hurt in the frequent irony he uses, even sarcasm. Surely he doesn’t really think they are kings or wise or have everything that they need.
Paul feels his own lack of status and respect quite keenly (9–13). At several places in his letters Paul regards himself as an example to
others, not only in what he teaches, but also in how he lives, and in the way that he suffers and accepts hardship and contempt for his Christian service.
Paul treads a very tricky line. He doesn’t want to draw attention to his own accomplishments, but he does want the Corinthians to take him seriously and learn from him (15–17). In light of this, how important do you think the personal behavior of Christian leaders is?
To what extent have you had such bitter experiences? Take time to reflect on them in the light of Paul’s words and his feelings.
Examine the feelings that have come up during your reflection and take them to God in prayer.
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