Study Sheet for I Corinthians 4:1-5 (click here for Study Notes)
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 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. 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. (NIV)
1. In the preceding verses (3:21-23) Paul has just stated that "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world of life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God." Now he says that people should consider us "servants of Christ" entrusted with stewardship or management over the "secret things of God." What are these "secret things of God"? (see Romans 11:25, 16:25, Eph. 1:9, 3:2-6, 9; Col. 1:25-27, 2:2; I Tim. 3:16) In what way(s) have Christ-followers been given management or stewardship over these "secret things"?
2. As managers entrusted with guarding and administering the Master's treasures, we have to prove ourselves faithful. What does it mean to be faithful with the "secret things of God"? How do we care for them? Paul goes on to say that another person's evaluation of his faithfulness means little to him-in fact, he doesn't consider his evaluation of himself to be valid. Why not? Why are God's managers often subjected to people's judgment?
3. Paul continues by saying that he has a clear conscience (see also Acts 23:1), but that doesn't make him innocent. Why not? (Romans 2:13-16) How can a servant of Christ be judged worthy? (II Cor. 10:18, Romans 3: 21-24)
4. Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to judge anything "before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes." If we "have the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16) and can make "judgments about all things," (I Cor. 2:15) why does Paul now say not to judge anything? Is he talking about two different kinds of judgment? (Matthew 7:1,2) What kind of judgment will happen when the Lord comes? (I Thess. 2:19; I Cor. 3:13; Job 12:22; Ps. 90:8) What kind of judgment should we do? (I Cor. 2:11-16)
5. When he comes God "will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts," Paul says. "At that time each will receive his praise from God." What is Paul talking about? Is he talking about believers or unbelievers? If he's talking about believers, what kinds of "hidden" motives might be exposed? Will people lose their salvation because of their hidden secrets? (I Cor. 3:13-15; Hebrews 4:13)
6. "At that time," Paul continues, "each will receive his praise from God." What will qualify us to receive praise from God? (Romans 2:29)
7.What or whom do you tend to judge? What or whom do you need to turn over to Jesus so you can live and worship without anxiety?
8.The Holy Spirit continually reveals to us things that are hidden in
our hearts. On what hidden thing(s) in your life is the Holy Spirit shedding
light? What behaviors do you have that are driven by motives you might not
fully understand? What do you need to offer to Jesus so he can heal the
underlying pain and give you freedom from the compulsions that drive you?
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.