Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Make No Judgments (1 Corinthians 4:5-7)

"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes …" (1 Cor. 4:5).

Paul warns the Corinthians not to make judgments about him before the appointed time, before the judgment of Christ. The basis for this warning is that only on the day of judgment will the hidden motives of the heart be revealed. Because man cannot know another’s thoughts and desires, he is incompetent to judge. The church can only make judgments about outward profession or action. It can make no right judgment of one’s motives. The church might think a minister is serving the Lord faithfully, when, in reality, he is serving out of selfish, ambitious motives. Likewise, a minister whom they consider unworthy of the pastoral position might be truly a faithful servant of the Lord, just as Paul was. “These secret works and motives, and not merely outward acts, are the grounds of judgment,” Hodge wrote. “Whether a man is faithful in preaching the gospel depends upon his motives; for some preached Christ of contention (Phil. 1:16).… He who sheds light on the secret things of darkness not only reveals acts done in secret, but makes manifest the counsels of the heart. What a work is here ascribed to the Lord Jesus! He will bring to light the secret acts and hidden motives of every human being. He will exercise the prerogative of judging the heart and conscience; a prerogative which none but an omniscient being can rightfully claim or possibly exercise.”

Paul not only tells the Corinthians to refrain from judgment, but to be humbled in their association with others. The church in Corinth had divided into factions, each exalting one minister over another, applauding the gifts of each as better than the other. But Paul warns them not to go beyond what is written in their estimation of ministers. In other words, they are only to praise the man for his faithful service, and even in that they must remember that everything he is and everything he is able to do is given by God.

Only God should receive the exalted praise that the Corinthians so willingly gave to mere men. Paul reminds them as he reminds all of us that we have nothing that we did not receive from above. This should humble us, not divide us into prideful, warring factions within the body of Christ. And every minister should say with Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

While Paul is speaking of ministers in this passage, it can certainly be applied to everyone. All your thoughts, every desire, every secret act will be exposed on the day of judgment. God already knows your motives and your secrets. Since this is the case, confess any secret sins you have or any wrong motives that might taint your service.