TEXT: 1 CORINTHIANS 4: 1-9
READING: PSALM 50: 1-23
SUBJ: The continuation of Paul's dealing with the matter of divisions as a matter of pride and being puffed up to the point of sitting in judgment as to Paul's faithfulness.
AIM: That we might follow the example of Paul in humility and the recognition that all judgment is by God alone.
INTR: The aim of Paul in writing here was to elevate the thoughts of the Corinthians above the considerations of men and to rather focus on the Gospel and the humility it produces.
1. He had addressed divisions in the beginning, had set forth the central issue in determining to know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified, had outlined the duties and functions of ministers showing them to be mere servants, and would now call out the tendency towards pride and judgment of others.
2. These issues were distractions that directed their attention away from the essential truths he would deliver unto them.
3. Paul could have easily become combatant. He rather places emphasis on the greatness and sovereignty of God and depicts himself as no more than a lowly servant.
THESIS: The greater the concept of God and salvation as it is in Christ, the more will there be a manifestation of humility.
I. Ministers, mysteries, ad faithfulness (vv. 1-2)
1. Paul reacted to the accusations of presumption of authority on his part and on the elevating of one servant above another. He would do so by denoting function as before God.
2. He did not object to being considered - his had been a prominent ministry among them and so had Apollos and others - but how should they account him?
1) Ministers of Christ - literally "under rowers") - the lowest in rank on a ship
2) Stewards - as servants given the task of managing the affairs of a master (usually a trusted slave). It was given to him to dispense to the needs of those serving or those hired.
3. Having defined to them rank and function he would advise of the stringent requirements for one so called.
1) First, he must be faithful to his master - Paul's faithfulness was to God.
2) And he must be faithful to those he would serve (remember Paul's words to the Ephesians - "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."
4. After all it was the mysteries of God (things that had been hidden and needed to be revealed with greater explanation).
5. He made claim to no special mystical powers as the manner of some was and still is.
II. A matter of judgment (vv. 3-5)
1. At first read we might discern here an "I don't care what you think" attitude.
2. He would rather establish that all judgment is of God and that their judgment was of no consequence:
1) Of them, whatever may have been determined by them
2) Of men in general of
3) Even of himself - my assessments either good or bad are still not qualified.
3. Paul confessed that he knew nothing of himself.
4. Paul then defers his own judgment to the Lord.
5. A word of exhortation: I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10)
1) There will be a time when all secrets of the heart will be laid bare
2) A stark reminder that we are not tried in the court of human opinion, rather of God.
3) Then shall he that is found faithful have "praise of God."
III. Who makes us to differ? (vv. 6-9ff)
1. In verse 6, Paul refers to previous metaphors he had used - farmers, builders, but all dependent on God.
2. He would again emphasize that his role and that of others was as lowly servants under the greatest of masters.
3. They had been "puffed up" against one another - claiming the high ground based on who they were following and demeaning another.
1) It remains to determine who is truly following the Lord
2) And who is accurately dispensing the truth.
4. The leveling question of verse 7.
1) The immediate application as a challenge to their superior feelings
2) An application for us all - as an antidote to any hint of pride in us
3) They were the products of the grace of God
4) Bear in mind that He has made us to differ.
5. In v. 8 Paul may be taking a tone of sarcasm while stating a truth:
1) You are full, rich, etc. These things were in fact true as a matter of salvation.
2) He would choose to be with them in the Kingdom reigning!
6. But rather was accepting of the lesser lot appointed to them as a result of the ministry they had criticized - See vv. 9-10.