1 Corinthians 4
The Nature of True Apostleship
4 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.
Paul wants the church leaders in Corinth to regard him as a servant of Christ. Before his he talks about being a Co-Worker with God and was urging the church leaders to acknowledge that God is the one who gives growth – not us.
What does Paul mean when he said to regard him as, “Those entrusted with the mysteries of God has revealed.” Interesting that Paul using the word mystery –
How do you become one that is entrusted with the mystery of God?
2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Interesting – those who are entrusted with the mysteries of God are required to prove faithful.
Interesting how it says, “Been given a trust.” What does it mean to be given a trust?
What does it mean to prove faithful?
The phrase that continues to come to my mind is that we are to diminish ourselves to be nothing to allow God to become more. Paul warns the church in Corinth against following people or accrediting people – rather Paul urges them to remember what their identity is with God: Co-workers, a servant of Christ, ones that are entrusted with the mysteries of God.
It seems that to be faithful is to root out the humanness in us.
3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
How? How does Paul do this? Paul has so much freedom from humans and from judgements against him. He doesn’t care what other people think, he doesn’t even care what he thinks himself, he only cares about the Lord’s judgement. How does one experience this kind of freedom? How does one attain such profound humility and rooted-ness in the Lord?
4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
Lord, I have such judgement in my heart about so many things – other people, myself… I do not feel the way that Paul does. I don’t feel like my conscience is clear and I care very deeply about what others think, even complete strangers. I have an inner narrative of shame and condemnation towards myself and what I do and how I do it. God, I want what Paul has. I want to seek you so deeply that I lose a sense of self. I want to be so connected to you that I’m abiding in what your Spirit is doing – that I would be able to say, as Jesus does in John 5, I do only what I see the Father doing. God- forgive me for the ways I look to others for their opinions and their judgements. Forgive me for the way I idolize people, for Paul warns not to follow people but to remember that we have all in Christ Jesus.
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.
Lord – I hate this feeling. I hate this deeply imbedded sin in my heart that quietly and pridefully looks this way and that way to look as though I am a certain type of follower or competent enough to be followed. Again, all rooted so much in working to please man and appease people.
7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
To the world, we strive for wisdom that gives us stature, promotion, reputation, but the the Kingdom of God, we aim to look like fools – but fools for Jesus.
Jesus invites us to be fools. He doesn’t invite us to pursue the riches and desires of materials/possessions but to be people who are absolute fools for God – people that are so free from the yoke of the flesh, they are free to follow God with a raw, authentic desire to please the Father.
God – HELP ME BE A FOOL FOR YOU! WHERE THE WORLD THINKS I LOOK FOOLISH FOR THE WAYS I FOLLOW YOU… LET ME BE FREED FROM THEIR JUDGEMENT FOR IT IS YOUR JUDGEMENT THAT I CARE ABOUT, LORD!
Faith = Freedom from the desire to follow or be followed by people but a steadfast rootedness in a desire to please God.
Paul comes against the social norm of what wisdom looks like and gloats in being a fool for God.
9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.