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)
Judgment And Praise
The desire to please others derives its seed from the carnal nature of man’s need to be accepted. It is important what others think. Peer pressure comes from a yearning to belong, to be accepted as equals, and to be judged favorably through the eyes of others. Many spend their whole lives trying to please others, fearful of what the world thinks of them and how the world judges them. They are never true to themselves as they seek to mold every fiber of their identification to what the world wants. At the end of life, they realize too late that the finicky vacillations of the world can never be pleased, and all they seek to gain is lost. All that is left is a life wasted on the altar of pride to please a world that cares very little and just as quickly dismisses them. Seeking judgment from the world is an exercise in futility and despair. Desiring praise from the world is but for a moment and then forgotten.
Paul recognized the only true worth of judgment and praise comes from God. Many judged Paul harshly, attaching him as an apostle, preacher, and steward of the will of God. The world’s judgments mattered little to Paul because he knew the proper judgment of his worth came from the Lord. The apostle tells the Corinthians it mattered little what they thought of him as he wrote a very difficult letter to a church filled with carnality, division, immorality, and rebellion. His letter was firm and decisive, with hard teachings that would offend most. Paul did not shy away from telling the Corinthians what they needed to hear and boldly addressed the glaring problems at Corinth. If harsh judgments were to be leveled against the apostle, he would only accept what the Lord judged.
The apostle Paul also recognized that he was not the authority for judgment for himself. It is easy for a man to judge himself righteous by his own standards, but this is a failed theology. Paul said he did not trust his judgment of himself. He knew his judgments were flawed. What he may think is the right way may not be what the Lord desires, so Paul admitted he could not make those decisions apart from God. It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge that self can be wrong. Paul would not be judged by others, and he did not rely upon his own wisdom to justify himself. He knew that righteous judgment could only come from the Lord. No matter what a man thinks of himself, God judges without partiality. It is the Lord himself that will examine a man and decide whether he is righteous or not.
True righteousness comes from the will of the Lord, and all righteous judgment will come from the Lord. When all things are considered before the throne of God, the hidden things will be revealed, and all the private motives of the heart will be laid bare before the divine Judge. If any praise is given, it will come from God. There will be no man standing on the final day to give an account of praise to another. All men will bow before the great I AM, seeking His praise and praise alone. Kings and servants will be the same, rich and poor will be judged, and all men will be equal before God – they will be considered unprofitable servants. Praise comes from God, who knows all and understands the heart of every man. Only God will give men the praise they deserve. If they do not receive praise, they will receive condemnation. The judgment of God is pure. No one will be judged who will not deserve what they receive.
Never fear what other men judge and determine to be right or wrong. Seeking the praise of men is an empty life. The only judgment that matters is what the Lord thinks, and the only praise worthy of consideration is the praise that comes from God. Living for the praise of men will bring heartache. Seeking the righteous judgment of the Lord and living for the praise of God will give eternal life. Judgment and praise must come from God.