1 Corinthians 4
Being wise stewards
Let a man regard us as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this, moreover, it is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or any man's judgment. I do not judge even myself. 4 For I know nothing against myself in my own conscience. Yet hereby I am not justified; but he that judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.
6 Now these things, brothers, I have applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes. That from us you might learn not to go beyond the things which are written, so that none of you get puffed up, one against the other. 7 For who makes you to differ? And what have you that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
Paul’s qualification to teach the Corinthians
8 Already are you filled, already you have become rich, you have come to reign without us. Yes, and I hope that you will indeed reign, that we also might reign with you. 9 For I think God has sent us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death. For we are made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You have glory, but we have dishonour. 11 Even to this present hour we both hunger and thirst and are naked and are buffeted and have no certain dwelling-place; 12 we toil, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure. 13 Being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the garbage of the world, the scum of the earth, even until now.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to encourage you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have ten thousand would be teachers in Christ, yet you have not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus it was me who begat you through the gospel. 16 I therefore urge you to be imitators of me. 17 For this cause have I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some are inflated with pride, as though I were not going to come to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and I will discover not the talk of those that are inflated with pride, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in talk but in power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
4:1 As taught in the parables of Jesus, we have each been given certain talents and blessings which we must use faithfully in God's service. If we don't use them, or use them for our own selfish advantage in this life, then we are not faithful stewards.
4:3 The fact we will be judged by God is so significant that it means that how mere people judge us in this life is irrelevant and should matter little to us.
4:4 On one level, our conscience is important. But even if our conscience is clear about something, this doesn't mean that we are therefore right. We stand before God's judgment of us; at the last day, our conscience will not as it were jump out of us and stand there and judge us. We will be judged according to our response to the Word which Jesus spoke (Jn. 12:48); and in some matters our conscience is faulty.
4:5 True judgement involves considering a person's deepest motives. Seeing these are hidden, both to us as observers and often to the person themselves, we cannot judge / condemn others; we simply must leave this to God. This doesn't mean that we can't have an opinion- otherwise we would be unable to tell right from wrong. But we must not pre-judge God's ultimate judgment of a person.
4:10 The life decisions we make because of our knowledge of Christ will often make us appear foolish in the eyes of unbelieving people. But do we appear fools to them- or do we usually act just like they do?
4:15 Those we bring to Christ are our spiritual children, and we must always care for them as long as we live; and we should likewise respect those who brought us to Christ as our spiritual parents.