Good morning my friends. It is a nice Summer Rain morning in my neck of the world. I hope you are waking to a pleasant day as well. We are looking at the first paragraph of 1 Corinthians 4 this morning.
Paul reveals a pleasant attitude that we would all do well to emulate:
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore 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. vv. 1-5
Faithfulness is a fantastic and impressive characteristic of Jesus and with the receiving of the Holy Spirit it should be ours as well. It is the thing that Paul indicates that we will be judged on. The thing that destroys faithfulness more than anything else is selfishness. Yet, if we have an attitude of a servant we all know that a servant cannot serve from a selfish position. A servant sets aside everything to do with himself in order to give himself fully. Paul put forward this thought throughout his letters. I remind you of this portion again:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7)
This attitude is not an easy one to maintain in a self-centered society and if you do manage to maintain it people seem to suck servant-hearted people dry. There are many reasons why people find it hard to remain a faithful servant. I think it makes a great difference when we realize we are not the servants of the world or of people; we are the servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, the name above all names. To him we are called to be faithful which is not so hard to do when we keep reminding ourselves what he did for us.
Paul speaks of judging others. He spoke of that to the Romans as well, warning people not to judge another man's servant, meaning the Lord's servant. Paul goes as far to say that he would not even judge himself. Is this because we cannot trust that we understand our own motivation or is it simply because he had that high of a respect for the place of judgement? Whatever the reason Paul gives this instruction:
It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore 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.
It doesn't get any clearer than that. We cannot judge because we cannot know another person's heart. Paul illudes to the fact that we have a tough time even understanding our own heart. Even when it comes to sin we are not to judge but we are suppose to work toward healing and restoration. Sometimes we walk around with this attitude that we have been appointed as judges, fault-finders, inspectors, and so on. Yet, the instructions of Jesus indicate that we are doctors, nurses and emergency workers. We are not here to destroy one another but instead to complete one another so that we can all remain faithful to the task of restoration.
In many of Paul's writings he refers to "the Day". This is the day of judgement. There is one day that has been reserved for judgement and there is one judge. According to the Word that one judge may appoint others to sit in judgement with him but that time has not come. Now is not the day of judgement but instead the day of salvation. So let's stop being so self-occupied and let's stop worrying about the actions and motivations of others. Be satisfied (or terrified) that all the hidden things will be revealed on that Day. Look to your own actions. Consider your own faithfulness.
May the Spirit strengthen you and provoke you to good works today. May he strengthen you to be strong and faithful in our work of nursing this world back to health. May the words "Never give up" ring through your heart all day long. How can we do it? How can we remain faithful? As far as I know there is only one way. I leave you with this:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)