What Does God Think About the Work I Am Doing? [1 Corinthians 4]
4For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
5Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.
6Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.
7For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
This passage has been one the Lord has been using to renew my mind for some time now. It correlates with the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 from a couple of days ago. The One who evaluates me (and you) is the Lord. When He comes He will bring to light what is hidden and will reveal the intentions of the heart. "And then each man's praise will come to him from God."
The interesting thing is that these verses are in the context of looking at how we are doing as servants of Christ and whether we will be found faithful as "managers of God's mysteries" (1 Cor. 4:1-2). Think about what Paul is saying even in chapter 3 when he is talking about how we are building on the foundation (that is Jesus Christ) with "gold, silver costly stones, wood, hay or straw, each one's works will become obvious... The fire will test the quality of each one's work. If anyone's work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward." (Underlines are mine, quotes are from Holman CSB).
So as I am managing God's mysteries I have come under criticism of others. Some of the criticism is valid and God has used it to reveal that I have become arrogant in regards to others and other minstries. God's questions, "For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn't receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn't received it?" (4:7, Holman), have compelled me to repent of this spiritual pride. It is something I daily ask God to change my mind about and to replace the thoughts of feeling superior to others with a thankfulness that everything I have comes from God and an appreciation for how He is working through others as well.
But what about when the critism doesn't seem to be valid? These verses are encouragement to remember that God's evaluation is what counts. Other evaluations are premature, whether it is from myself or from others. What is really going to count is when all the hidden stuff is revealed, that I will receive praise from my God. "Well done my good and faithful servant" will be music to my soul (Matthew 25:21).
When I ask myself why it is so important to me that others are pleased with me, the intention of my heart is often revealed. Galatians 1:10 reminds me that "If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."
May we be found faithful today as we are servants of Christ.