Updated: Jul 14
People's trust in leaders has diminished, but God stills calls His people to submit to godly leadership
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1 Corinthians 4 (ESV)
1 This is how one should regard us,
as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court.
In fact, I do not even judge myself.
4 For I am not aware of anything against myself,
but I am not thereby acquitted.
It is the Lord who judges me.
5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment
before the time,
before the Lord comes,
who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness
and will disclose the purposes of the heart.
Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,
that you may learn by us
not to go beyond what is written,
that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
7 For who sees anything different in you?
What do you have that you did not receive?
If then you received it,
why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
8 Already you have all you want!
Already you have become rich!
Without us you have become kings!
And would that you did reign,
so that we might share the rule with you!
9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all,
like men sentenced to death,
because we have become a spectacle
to the world,
and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ’s sake,
but you are wise in Christ.
We are weak,
but you are strong.
You are held in honor,
but we in disrepute.
11 To the present hour
we hunger and thirst,
we are poorly dressed
and buffeted and homeless,
12 and we labor, working with our own hands.
13 when slandered,
and are still,
like the scum of the world,
the refuse of all things.
14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed,
but to admonish you as my beloved children.
15 For though you
have countless guides in Christ,
you do not have many fathers.
For I became
your father in Christ Jesus
through the gospel.
16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
17 That is why I sent you Timothy,
my beloved and faithful child in the Lord,
to remind you of my ways in Christ,
as I teach them everywhere in every church.
18 Some are arrogant,
as though I were not coming to you.
19 But I will come to you soon,
if the Lord wills,
and I will find out
not the talk of these arrogant people
but their power.
20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk
but in power.
21 What do you wish?
Shall I come to you with a rod,
or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
1 Corinthians 4 Summary
It may not initially seem like this is very applicable to the issues and problems you will have today, but looking at its context will help you see that it does. Paul has been addressing a problem in the Corinthian church in which they were splitting up into factions that followed various preachers.
Some followed Paul, others Apollos, and others just went off on their own. But here we are reminded that as members of the church we are people under authority. Certainly we are under the authority of Jesus, there's a delegated authority between us and Him. In the case of theses early churches like Corinth, that delegated authority were the apostles, and Paul is writing that since both he and Apollos were delegated by Christ, it makes no sense for Christians to categorize themselves.
Of course today the apostles are long gone. The authority of Christ still persists, but in the place of the apostles, we have the words they wrote to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We don't just pick a few of the books we like and disregard the others, rather, we hold all sixty-six books of both the Old and the New Testament as being Christ's delegated authority in our lives.
There's a growing sentimentality in our culture that we can live independently from the church as Christians, especially when it seems so easy to see the hypocrisies of church leaders. But you're not designed nor meant to just listen in to a recorded sermon or hum along to Christian radio.
As God's child, you are called to fight against the 'arrogance (v18)' that arises from our comfortable lifestyles and find true freedom by fully submitting to God and to His church.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father God provides us Godly leaders in the church to keep us close to Him;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask for the ability to imitate the example given by Paul and the other human authors of God's Word (v16).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: