What comes to mind when you hear the words judge and judgment? When reading Scripture, these definitions may not be adequate to help us in our understanding. We need to know what type of judgment is being referred to.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul was writing to a church that was beginning to question his apostolic authority. They thought that their way was better than the Word Paul was bringing them on God’s behalf. Many of them were resisting his teaching.
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.
1 Corinthians 4:3-4
It’s very important that we understand what Paul is saying here. Many have taken it out of context in order to choose their own path rather than God’s plan. It all comes down to what’s meant by judging.
It turns out that in the Greek language there are many words that are all translated by judge or judgment in English. That makes for some confusion when reading certain parts of the Bible.
The word, judged, in this section means to interrogate or investigate in order to make a determination. It’s a critical viewing of all the evidence with the purpose of coming up with a verdict. That makes this an important concept for believers to grasp.
Paul is saying that what they’re determining about his ministry is not important. They can do their surface investigation and observe all that he says and does. But that’s not the end of the story. God, Himself has the final say as to Paul’s faithfulness.
There were some people in Corinth who didn’t like the fact that Paul was bringing correction to the church. It was uncomfortable.
“Paul should be more loving. Why does he always tell us what we’re doing wrong? He can’t be doing God’s work with that kind of attitude.”
There were certain parts of Paul’s ministry that they didn’t like. So they were majoring on other teachers that they liked better. Paul is clear that this type of judging is wrong.
As a matter of fact, it’s just as wrong to judge ourselves by these standards. You can’t simply look at surface circumstances and events to determine if you’re in God’s will.
Paul states that even though he can’t think of anything he’s done wrong, that’s not what justifies him. He has already been declared innocent by the blood of Christ. What he does has no effect on that.
But, when it comes to a final determination of his ministry, there’s only One qualified Judge.
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.
1 Corinthians 4:5
There will be a final judgment for believers. This judgment will not be a Heaven or hell decision. That was already decided when I bowed my knee to Christ. The judgment for believers is all about their rewards…or lack thereof.
The Lord’s judgment won’t be based upon what it looked like on the surface. He’ll take into account the thoughts and intents of the heart. God knows our motivations and our faithfulness even if they weren’t apparent to all those who were watching us.
Be careful not to make a determination about yourself based upon your apparent failures. Let God have the final say. Keep staying faithful to the Lord’s call upon your life.
Question: How have your motives not always lined up with the outcomes of your actions?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi