1 Corinthians 4 – Belief and Behavior
There have been hundreds of books written about leadership. The church has tried to adopt what is written in the business world with application to God’s church in trying to manage and control her…and failed. People are not products we produce. People are not things we control or manage. But many people expect leaders to treat them in this manner because all they know is what the world has trained them to be and do.
This puts undue heat on leaders who are trying to follow God’s plan and be servant leaders who teach others to be servant leaders with motivations to just be and do what God has invited us to be and do. We know that God is in control, in the lead through believing faith in Jesus Christ as the Head of God’s church (people). We are careful not to lag behind or jump ahead of His will and plan.
We cannot “fake it ’til we make it” or attempt to do everything humanly possible to make it happen to change people. That is God’s work in each person He has created and knows well. That is not the job of a servant. Our goal is focused minds on Christ and doing what He commands us to be and do…loving God and others with all that is in us. We only listen, obey and provide an environment of love and acceptance, working alongside each other, not above one another, so God can do His best work in all of us.
Paul’s letter, led by the Holy Spirit, has given us much needed advice about serving. Listen and learn, ponder and evaluate our own heart motivations as we read…
1 Corinthians 4, The Message
1-4 Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The Master makes that judgment.
5 So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.
6 All I’m doing right now, friends, is showing how these things pertain to Apollos and me so that you will learn restraint and not rush into making judgments without knowing all the facts. It’s important to look at things from God’s point of view. I would rather not see you inflating or deflating reputations based on mere hearsay.
7-8 For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. Without bringing either Apollos or me into it, you’re sitting on top of the world—at least God’s world—and we’re right there, sitting alongside you!
9-13 It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better.
14-16 I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself.
17 This is why I sent Timothy to you earlier. He is also my dear son, and true to the Master. He will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give all the churches on the way of Christ.
18-20 I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.
21 So how should I prepare to come to you? As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? You decide.
What do we learn as Messiah’s Misfits?
–We are all servants of Jesus Christ.
–Don’t imagine leaders to be something they are not.
–Servants of Christ do not “police” the ways of Christ in others, we only lovingly guide them.
–A good guide knows Jesus, knows the Word, knows him/herself in relation to God, knows and cares for those they are trying to help know Jesus, too.
–We are reliable…Truth told each time and backed by the Word.
–We don’t rank or compare ourselves to others. That is fruitless and only hinders the work God has invited us to do.
–We don’t lag behind or get ahead of the Master. We walk in rhythm with Him.
–We don’t jump to conclusions…about anything. Get the facts. Even then, God has the final say. “It is important to look at things from God’s point of view.”
–We know our inner motives, purposes and prayers are known to God.
–We serve to please God alone because of His love for us.
–We do not gossip about each other’s weaknesses. We are not God who sees the heart of the person.
–“Who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart?” AND “Is there anything we can take credit for? Everything we have is a gift from God.” SO, what’s the point of competing and comparing?
–We have more access to God that we can handle. We have Jesus. We have ALL we need.
–“Momma told me there’d be days like this…” As the song implies, hard times of questioning ourselves and the work will come. “It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket.”
–We are Messiah’s Misfits! We do not fit in a world who cares only for self and self gratification.
–We live for Christ. That is the secret! Don’t panic or grow tired of the work even though we grow weary in the work. Stick with it. God sticks by you.
–When bad rumors are spread about us we say, “God bless you” in return.
–Paul cares about people. He writes as a father to his children with much love…the love God, as our Father, has for us. “There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up.” WHAT A STATEMENT OF TRUE LOVE!
–We must take the time to care and confront only so others won’t crash someday.
–You can only take people as far as you have already been. “I’m not asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself.”
–“God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk, it’s an empowered life.” Wow. Think about this statement. Take all the time you need.
SO, what do you expect of a church leader, pastor, worship leader, teacher of any other servant of God? “As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? YOU DECIDE.
Find him or her and walk alongside them, pray for them. and serve each other well. Someday, we will hear, “Well done, faithful servant” from God himself!
Dear Heavenly Father,
You inspired Paul to write words that speak your heart. We repent of comparing ourselves and the work you have given us with others who seem more successful. We repent of ranking people who are serving you when we are all equal in your eyes. Help us to shed all worldview from our thinking and think more like You so we will behave in ways that please you. Help us to be good friends and listeners not those who think or say “I told you so…”. Transform me. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, and by His power in us, Amen.