With a title like that, I was sure to attack a wary eye! Follow along with me in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NIV):
1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
Did you read that at the end…”at that time each will receive his praise from God.” There’s a way to receive praise from God! Let’s look at this passage briefly. We know God doesn’t reward sin, so let’s see what it takes to receive God’s praise.
Verse 1 says “…men ought to regard us as servants of Christ.” The word “servants” is the Greek word huperetes (upereteß) which means not only servant but also minister. It carries the same idea when we refer to a pastor as a minister. Paul is telling (reminding) us that we are ALL ministers of Christ! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV) says “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” ALL of us are “slaves” to Jesus Christ. We were bought with a price–the life of Jesus! We are all called to be servants of God.
The phrase “as those entrusted” is a great one the Greek. It’s the word oikonomos (oikonomoß) and also means “steward”. God has entrusted us as stewards of His Holy “things”–the “secret things of God”. We are commissioned to be good stewards of His gospel message!
J Vernon McGee, in his commentary Thru the Bible, relates to this verse by adding that we are all preachers. The issue is not whether or not we want to be one, but what kind of preacher we are! Wow!
Look at verse 2: Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Did you notice that the Holy Spirit did NOT have Paul write, “It is required that those who are given a trust must prove the most talented.”? NO WAY! Faithfulness is the key! This Greek word, pistos (pistoß), also means “trustworthy”. It carries the idea of one who can be trusted in all their business transactions. Whose business are we transacting? God’s! He wants us to be faithful.
Verses 3-5 break down three “courts” in which we all move. McGee describes it as a lowest court, lower court, and a high court.
The lowest court (verse 3) is the court of public opinion. Sadly, this is governing factor in too many people’s lives. Based on public opinion, they determine right from wrong. Paul says this is clearly not a though process we should have! He teaches us that we should care very little about the “ever-so-powerful court of public opinion.”
In verse 3b and 4, Paul talks about the next higher court: our conscience. Here we wrestle with ourselves and evaluate those “gray areas” of life (that’s another blog–just let it go for now!).
Verse 5 is where Paul really reminds us of what’s important: God’s Supreme Court. In this Supreme court, the Judge is not concerned with arguments or defenses. He already knows the outcome. He knows more than just our good deeds and bad deeds. He knows our hearts and He knows our motives! Remember this: motive matters to God!
After reviewing our deeds, evaluating our motives, then God will give us praise for our right actions with right motives! He will have something good to say about every believer. What a great day!