Wednesday 04 May 2022

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. (v. 3)

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Wednesday 4 May 2022

Psalm 123


In a similar way to yesterday's reading, it is very clear that Paul is saying to the Corinthian church that their only leader, authority and wisdom is Jesus. Paul reinforces this by calling them 'servants' and 'stewards' (vs 1-2). The two words are significant.

In Greek, the word 'servants' refers to those who rowed the lower bank of oars on large ships, the 'under-rowers'. That establishes their place quite clearly! Secondly, the word we translate as 'steward' refers to those who had responsibility for someone’s household, ie the emphasis is on trustworthiness rather than on administrative efficiency – although perhaps both would be preferable.

Paul is emphasising the importance of real humility for all Christians, whether perceived leaders or members of the church. Let’s row in the same direction and let that direction be determined by Jesus. Then let’s make sure that, if we have been blessed with knowing 'God’s mysteries' (v. 1), we realise that we have also been considered trustworthy to pass these things on to others. Paul then makes the point that such 'trustworthiness' of the gospel is actually the cornerstone of any judgement.

From experience, judgement is not the most popular topic discussed in church circles. Yet in this short passage Paul writes of three different kinds of judgements:

  • Judgements that others pass on us. (verse 3)
    Paul is quite dismissive of this. How can other people judge us in human terms, when they will never be in full possession of all the facts?
  • Judgement of one’s own conscience. (verse 4)
    Paul suggests that this is also imperfect – “I am not aware of anything against myself ...”
  • The judgement of the Lord. (verse 4)
    Paul ends this section by saying that, “It is the Lord who judges me.”

The importance of not judging others is an important reminder. Also, Paul’s insistence on God’s ‘final’ judgement, in whatever way that happens, is also important to “bring to light the things now hidden in darkness”. However, it is the middle point that Paul makes that is possibly most problematic. If we believe that Christ’s spirit is alive, then the living Christ is omnipresent and able to suggest the best way to live our lives. Doesn’t Christ both inform our prayers of confession as well as offering the comfort of forgiveness?

Talking of comfort, lovely verse 5 rounds off today’s reading. “Then each one will receive commendation from God.” Let’s live today as good servants and trustworthy stewards!


To Ponder:

  • Singing The Faith 741 ('We pray until the hour') contains the words, “O Christ our souls prepare for that tremendous day, and fill us now with watchful care, and stir us up to pray.” Would we feel the same about judgement if we sang “THIS tremendous day”?
  • Can you be a good servant without being a trustworthy steward? Or even vice versa?

First published March 2020.

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