We are picking back up in the conversation between Paul and the church in Corinth. You remember that the Corinthians had caused division among themselves by trying to decide who the better pastor was or who the better speaker was or whatever.
The Corinthians who were making judgments and accusation were themselves not in a position to be making such remarks.
They had let pride, selfishness, and favoritism distract them. They had taken their eyes off Jesus and shifted their focus. Now their focus was on personal preferences and opinions. They were so focused on minor things that they had all but forgotten their own sanctification journey.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Paul, tells the church that they are only to think of them as servants of Christ. They have been entrusted or called to steward the mysteries of God. This means that they devote time to studying and praying so that they can clearly communicate the truths of Scripture to them. This applies to the gospel and biblical doctrines and theology. This is important because they are working to help the church build upon the solid foundation of Jesus. They want to give you the tools and materials that you need to build a solid structure/house that is going to last through tests and trials and not collapse on the account of wind or rain. These mysteries are not going to be understood in human weakness. You can only understand it if God reveals it to them.
It’s just like when a person is saved. God has to reveal a person’s sin to them so that they will be made aware of the fact that they have sinned against a Holy God and only deserve the outpouring of the wrath of God. Until a person understands where they stand with God apart from Jesus, they will never accept the gospel as good news. Unless, they see themselves as lost, wretched, blind, and headed to eternal damnation, the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross and his glorious resurrection from the grave will have little significance to them.
The Corinthians had focused on the capabilities of each leader and most likely were judging them based on what they had considered to be qualities that a leader should have. This means that they were hearing the Word as it was being preached. They were not applying Scripture but were judging the pastor based on his sermon.
Paul writes in his other letters that he is not eloquent. He doesn’t use big, lofty, words and he sometimes speaks with a speech impediment. It is possible that he was being judged and received disparaging comments.
He says that stewards are to be found trustworthy. You as the church are stewards required to be found trustworthy over the the gifts, and things that God has allowed you to take care of. You are to use them to make disciples and glorify God. You are a steward.
Pastors are stewards. According to Hebrews 13:17-18 –
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
People that need a reason to complain will find a reason to complain. As long as the pastor is faithful and trustworthy, vigilant and diligent, people do not have a reason to complain. Paul even said that it was a very small thing to be judged by them. In other words, it is God who will judge him based on his heart. They need to keep their opinions and personal preferences to themselves.
1 Samuel 16:7b For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
If your eyes are on Jesus and you are diligently in the Scripture, then you have no business judging the pastor. This does not mean the pastor is above Scripture, he is to live by it as an example of how to follow Jesus. Call sin exactly what it is – sin.
In the last few years when you see in the news or read online about another pastor engaged in adultery or embezzling funds from the church – you will find a pastor who was not held to the standards required of him by Scripture. It is up to the leaders of the church to hold him accountable and something should be said if things look a little off.
The Corinthian church were looking at the outward appearance and things they could see. How tall were they, how well did they dress, how well did they speak? The Bible clearly says that these things are not what they are to be focused on. They are to be focused on Jesus and working to apply the Scriptures that have been explained to them by their pastor.
God looks at the heart and will judge the heart and motives of the pastor. A teacher of the Holy Scriptures will be held to a higher standard and will be held accountable by God.
Everyone will receive a commendation by the Lord. Paul said to not judge before it is time. That will take place when Jesus comes.
Everything that you and I have hidden in the darkness will be brought to light. Every sin that has been hidden. Everything that you have not repented of, everything that you have lied about or tried to excuse away will be revealed when the motives of your heart are made known by Jesus.
That should bother you to some degree.
Be free of your sin.
Jesus has broken your chains.
Repent of your sin and turn to Jesus and walk in freedom.
I LOVE OUR CHURCH!
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