1 Corinthians 4:3-6

In 1 Corinthians 4:3-6 Paul begins by reminding the church that there is only One that we should be focused on serving. It doesn’t matter what others think of us, only God himself. Paul doesn’t really care that the church in Corinth wasn’t that crazy about him or what he was teaching them. He was serving an audience of One, and that’s how we need to live as well. “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.” Paul goes further to explain our estimation of our self is usually wrong. We are almost always too hard or too easy on ourselves. There is one true measuring stick – God’s Word. That’s what we need to be concerned with living up to.

We can deceive ourselves in thinking that we are in good standing with God based on what we think of ourselves, but be completely off track. Paul recognizes that he does not stand in a perfect state of justification or innocence just because his conscience was clear. Paul knew his righteousness came from Jesus, not from his own personal life – even though he had a godly walk. “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” It is impossible for us to live a life worthy of God on our own. We all sin, and we all need Jesus. So if we are trying to make it on our own, we’re going to come up short.

Paul is clear that ultimately there will be only One true judge. We live our lives and as Christ Followers should walk according to God’s Word. But that alone isn’t going to be enough when we stand at the judgment seat. We’ll fall short because we are not perfect. “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” But if we stand there with the blood of Jesus covering us, we’ll be granted eternal life with God in heaven.

Paul applies this teaching about judgment to himself and other Apostles serving the church. They had a job to do in teaching and leading the church in Corinth, but that congregation was continually judging these leaders on their own standards. Many people today evaluate a pastor or a minister on unbiblical standards. They judge him on the basis of his humor, or entertainment value, his appearance, or his skill at marketing and sales. “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” The truth is that there is only one standard for church leaders – the Word of God. That alone is how we need to consider those who lead the church.

It used to be that something was considered Biblical if it came from the Bible; today, people say things are “Biblical” if can’t find a verse which specifically condemns it. This is to think beyond what is written. Paul is clear that serving God is not a contest where we should compete with each other to determine who is doing the most. This shouldn’t be a pride thing. There is only one measure – how we are doing compared to what we could do if we walked with God and His Word completely and totally. This isn’t between people, but between how we live and how we could and should live. Don’t get puffed up comparing yourself to anyone else.

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