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. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
While this verse if familiar to many of us and actually seems quite easy to understand, there are many questions we might ask: If we are to judge nothing before the appointed time, when is that time to be? When will the Lord come to bring a light into the darkness and expose the motives of our hearts? Are there motives within our hearts that we do not want the Lord to see of know of? And, finally, when will each of us receive praise from God? What must we do to be worthy of that praise?
To understand these questions a bit better, we need to understand that the fourth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the people of Corinth was addressing the ministry of the apostles. The chapter break is not the beginning of a new topic, as Paul continues to speak about the divisions within the Corinthian church and sums up and concludes his understanding of apostolic Christian ministry. The Corinthians had exalted ministers who impressed them with wisdom. Paul himself did not measure up well by those standards.
In the fifth verse, Paul tells us not to pronounce judgment before the time. This is not a general statement about having a judgmental attitude, but a particular statement about evaluating Christian ministers: only the eschaton will reveal who has been a good minister and who has not. Paul calls on the people of Corinth (and us as well) to judge, to critically discern and make a decision, and he himself is judging the Corinthians in this sense throughout the first four chapters.
Are we worthy ministers? Will we be judged by our own personal ministries? Perhaps, as with the people of Corinth, we will. And when that time does come, may our hearts be pure of motive so that we will receive the blessings of God.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.
Columbia Prayer Chain: Friday, December 28
In our prayers: Eddie Bolton, Myrna, Esther, Pam James, Becca, Doug and Sharon, Shandra Dickenson, John Kelchner, Jeannie, Elizabeth Matthews, Nedrick Griffin, Jennifer Handy, Nancy Stuckey, Annemarie Sullivan, Rachel and Randy Wurtzbaugh, Patty Peckham, Denise Byrd, Caralynn, Greg and Lisa Steele, Dean Timothy Jones, Linda Langford, Marty Fritz, Harriet Hancock, Tommy and Robby Palmer, Patty and Ted Mac Laughlin, Janet Long, Bobby Wilson, Debbie and Pat Barry, Betty Jo Sullivan, Mary Francis Harris, Patrick and Patricia Barry, Jordan Hill, Doris Clevenger, Charles Sigel, Joe Reno, Bob Davis, John Whatley, Nancy Zuckerman, Charles Davis Sr., Elaine and Sharon, Bill Carter, Betty Peavy Frick, Joye Cantrell, Fred and Gail, Dale and Norma Sessions, Padge Arrington, Jerry Callahan, Norman Masters
Our thoughts are prayers are especially with all whose lives were touched by the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and the volunteer firefighters and their families in Webster, New York.
In memoriam: Dorothy Lee Chapman Corley, Robert E. “Robbie” Davis, Roy Ernest Dooley, Harry Dean Johnson, Linda Lee Orton Dempster, Jessie Mae Eaddy, Amy Nichol Hardy, Jacqueline Marsh, Lucille Harvey Murphy, Donald Lee Jones, David Harold “Dick” Keisler, Sarah Cartha Eargle Lee, Albert Louis Patterson, Neville Samuel John Poots, Levern B. Scott, Zilla Davis Taylor, Jessie Juanita Thompson Prokity, William P. “Bill” Vanca, Jane Mabus Trotter
Our prayers are with: the elderly, the homeless, all currently fighting illness, all beloved pets, our president and congress, our police officers and firefighters, all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box below or email me to join our Prayer Chain. It is updated daily.