Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
Seeking The Praise Of God
The apostle Paul had his critics. There were those in the church who did not accept him as an apostle and some judged the former persecutor with a suspicious eye. Paul was not an orator as Apollos. His presence was weak and his speech some considered contemptible. He ruffled a few feathers along the way because his preaching did not tickle the ears of human reasoning. The message of Paul was directed to the cross of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Nothing else mattered. He describes to the saints in Corinth the work of preaching is like a man who plants the seed while another man waters the efforts of the seed planter with God giving the increase for the glory of the kingdom. Each man has a role that he fits into the scheme of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like building a structure, every man has a role in establishing a foundation and building upon those efforts. The conclusion is that whether the man is Paul, Apollos, and Peter, everything works together for the cause of Christ with no man receiving the glory.
Paul had a single purpose in mind in his work of preaching. He sought to live in such a manner that would bring glory to God. Apollos and Paul were servants of the same Lord serving the same purpose as faithful stewards of the mystery of Christ. The judgment of men was not the criteria of Paul’s preaching but if he pleased God. Whether any man on earth would commend the apostle for his work, his many trips in difficult places, and all the sufferings he endured for the cause of Christ was not a concern from him. He wanted to receive praise from God and that is all that mattered. Each man will receive praise from God as the discerner of the hidden things of darkness and the revelation of the hearts’ counsel. Praise of men was of no value. Receiving praise from God was eternal.
During the ministry of Jesus, many people believed in Him including some of the Jewish leaders. But they would not admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. The reason was as old as mankind: they loved human praise more than the praise of God. They found the worth of human honor more appealing than the eternal praise of God. Sadly, this caused them to reject Jesus refusing to confess Him before men. Praise comes from either men or God; one is temporary while the other is eternal. Men can accomplish great things in life and make a name for themselves but to what end? Preachers can be adored by thousands of people and yet to confess the doctrine of Christ. They will soon be forgotten as they pass into eternity but the Lord will not forget. Paul is remembered today not because he gained the attention of men but that he pleased the Lord and gained praise from God.
All things will be laid bare before the judgment bar of the Lord God. In that final day of reckoning, nothing will matter in the minds of men and women who made a name for themselves on this side of eternity. God will not be impressed by how many books they wrote and how large their television or internet audience was and how big a house they lived in. In the heart of every human being standing for the great I AM, the question will be: will I receive praise from the Father? At that moment and at that time that is all that matters. The truth is – this is all that matters now. Don’t wait to find out too late how important the praise of God is. Do not please men. Seek the praise of God.