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1 Corinthians 4:1-21 (Part 1)



So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

(verses 1-5)

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The Corinthians have been breaking into factions, teaming up against each other. Quarreling and jealousy are rife. They’ve carried banners of factionalism: “I am of Paul!” “I am of Apollos!”


Paul has turned it all aside in the last chapter, saying: “What after all is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe” (1 Cor 3:5).


He returns to the very same point here: “men ought to regard us as servants of Christ” (verse 11). In other words, Christ himself is the main thing. Always. If you take notice of us at all, Paul is saying, notice Christ. The name of Christ supersedes that of Paul or Apollos. Fully.


Yes, these very servants have possession of the “secret things of God” (verse 1) – it’s certainly an incredible treasure. Elsewhere, Paul calls it “God’s secret wisdom” (2:7), which has previously been hidden from everyone, but is now made known. The secret, of course, is Christ himself – “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1:24). Yes, it’s an incredible privilege for Paul and Apollos to be used in this way, making known this glorious new revelation. But it’s not to their own glory. Do you notice what Paul says? These “secret things of God” have been “entrusted” to these servants. Entrusted. Given from other hands. Immediately, this takes the focus off the messengers and puts it squarely on the One whose message it is (God the Father) and on the message itself (Christ, and him crucified).


In all of this, Paul is a compelling example. He is unfazed by human acclaim or human judgement. His focus, instead, is the Lord. “I care very little if I am judged by you,” he says. “It is the Lord who judges me” (verses 3-4).


Oh, that I might have this same, sane perspective, both about myself and about others, so that I “will not take pride in one man over against another” (verse 6). May I have eyes on Jesus so steadily that I am not distracted by either the applause or disparagement of others. Further, may I have eyes so clearly on Jesus that I don’t put undue weight on those who, like me, are simply his servants. Further still, with my eyes on Jesus himself, may I always highly value each and every one of his servants, purely and simply because they belong to him.

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Dear Lord Jesus, I choose to honour you above everything. I choose to honour those you have entrusted as your servants. I choose to serve you faithfully. Keep my eyes on you.

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Reflect:

What does it mean for you to be one of Christ’s servants? What calling has he entrusted into your hands? How will you honour him through it today?

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Photo by Gabirel Rissi on Unsplash.

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