“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5, AV)
When I was in junior-high-school, I had a job as a paperboy. One day, one of my customers asked me if I could mow her lawn while they were on vacation. She had a mower and I used it. She was apparently pleased with my work, so I got the job permanently. My lawn mowing business started. She even gave me a very expensive mower. It so happened that her neighbor asked me to mow her lawn as well while the family was on vacation. My lawn mowing business was growing.
The week that I was to mow their lawn, it began to rain. In fact, it poured for a full week. I kept waiting for the rain to stop and the grass to dry out but it did not. Finally, I had a break in the rain and I went to mow the neighbor’s lawn. When I got there, it was totally overgrown and I was ill equipped to handle the clippings. However, I labored through the mowing with the thought that I could come back and take care of the clippings. However, I could not get back before the family returned from vacation.
Let me just say, when I saw the owner of that home again, she was not very happy. In fact, I lost her as a customer and did not get paid. I don’t blame her. Her yard was a mess with piles of grass clippings scattered throughout. The point is that when she and the family left for vacation, they made me a steward of their yard and, rightfully so, they did not commend me as a steward.
In this section, Paul wrote about being a steward of the mysteries of God. In the previous devotion, we saw that a minister needed to be faithful stewards and that they are servants of Christ. Here, he went on to write that no human entity was qualified to judge him, that the Lord was the judge of the degree of his faithfulness. He even stated that he did not judge himself. He did not need to judge himself because he had a heart for God and was purposed to fulfill his calling. Yet, he knew that only the Lord was qualified to judge his faithfulness.
Paul indicated that a time was coming when the Lord would return and He would bring everything to light. The light always reveals the things not seen in the darkness. What are these things? in this context it would refer to the quality of the works done and the motives behind them.
Of particular importance in the Lord’s judgment will be the purposes of the heart. While Paul did not judge in these matters, he realized that many who ministered did so in errant ways. As previously indicated, some would try to build on a false foundation, one that was contrary to the truth of the gospel of grace. Others might build with flawed materials, perhaps preaching a liberal or legalistic doctrine.
Yet, others may have been ministering with flawed motives. This could be to receive their commendation from men. They may have sought earthly praise to stroke their egos, or to gather a large following for the same reason. Some may have been in the ministry to accumulate gain in material ways.
These flawed ways and motives are still evident in serving the Lord today. We must be watchful for this hidden danger and warn believers. For we most certainly want every believer to enjoy the blessings of God’s commendation when they experience the Lord’s presence.