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Tuesday, December 27, 2016, 11:06 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Giveth More Grace.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 4:1-13 (ESV).

Be Faithful (vv. 1-2)

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

What is a steward? A steward is a servant; an agent of another. He manages the property of another. He is one who is given a trust; an assignment. A trust is a responsibility, a charge, or a guardianship over something or someone. Basically, as servants of the Lord, we are all his stewards. We have all been given a trust – a responsibility or an assignment, as an agent (instrument) of God in his service. We have been given salvation, and the gospel, and God living within us, and spiritual gifts of the Spirit, and spiritual assignments (roles) within the body of Christ, selected for us by God alone.

So, we must prove faithful to God with what he has entrusted to our care. Regarding our salvation, we must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. Concerning the gospel, we should be sharing it with others so that they can know how they can know Jesus Christ, too. Related to the Spirit of God now living within us, we must not quench the Spirit, but we must be responsive to the Spirit’s voice speaking God’s truths to our hearts, and we must respond with obedience. Pertaining to the Word of God, we need to be daily drinking in the Word and then doing what it says, and not be hearers only. About spiritual gifts and our assignments given us by God within the body of Christ, it is essential that we are being led by the Spirit, and that we are not trying to serve God in human flesh.

Human Judgments (vv. 3-7)

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. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 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.

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. 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?

Paul had been addressing the Corinthian believers concerning quarrels and fights among them, prompted by the fact that they were making idols of men, and that they were raising one preacher (servant) above another. So, he attempted to correct their thinking, and to point them back to Jesus Christ as the one they should be following, not human beings. He let them know that all God’s servants are just servants of the Lord, doing his bidding, and being faithful to the tasks they were assigned, and nothing more. And, he also reminded them that it is God/Jesus who makes things grow, i.e. who brings the increase. We can do none of what God has assigned us in our own willpower and strength, but only in the power and strength of the Lord.

In the process, he also made a distinction between the wisdom of men and the wisdom and power of God. He said that God made foolish the wisdom of the world. He basically let them know that God doesn’t think like we do. He doesn’t evaluate other humans with human logic and reasoning. Those that humans might choose, God might reject, while those God might choose for his service, humans might reject and treat as though they are trash. So, what he was trying to say here, I believe, is that we should not judge other humans by human standards, i.e. not by today’s culture and values nor by our own personal preferences and prejudices. But, we should make all evaluations (examinations) according to the truths written in God’s word.

As well, he appears to have addressed here the problem of spiritual pride, i.e. the lack of true humility in service to our Lord. So, he brought things into perspective for them. All that we have that is good is from God, and not from ourselves, so we have no reason to brag over what has been given us, and about which we had no part in attaining, i.e. we don’t earn our own salvation or our own giftedness. We don’t choose our own roles within the body of Christ, either, so if God should choose to use one (or some) of us in a way that is different from others, who are we to act as though we did not receive this from God, and that we somehow did this in our own strength? We should always give God the glory for whatever good he does in and through our lives, which is for his purposes and for his glory.

The Refuse (vv. 8-13)

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! 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, to angels, and to men. 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. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

When we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and we are faithful to the trusts we have been given, and we fulfill the roles he has assigned us within the body of Christ – all in the power and strength of the Spirit within us – there will be people who will not get us, i.e. who won’t understand why we do what we do, and are who we are, and they may judge us by human standards, rather than against the Word of God. And, they may hate, reject, persecute, accuse falsely, cast aside, or otherwise treat us with disdain, or completely ignore us, as though we do not even exist, because they do not regard us as worth their time.

Yet, when we are treated poorly, we should respond with love and kindness. We should endure persecution for the sake of the gospel and for the name of Jesus. We are not to take matters into our own hands, or to try to get even with those who despitefully use us. But, we are to forgive our persecutors. We are to love our enemies, pray for them, want good for them, and do good to them. Even if we are treated like the scum (refuse) of the world, we should not retaliate, but we must rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Christ and his gospel. And, in all these things, our Lord Jesus will give us all we need to endure, to remain faithful to him and to the trust he has given to us, and to keep sharing his gospel, despite all opposition. His grace is enough to see us through any and all situations.

He Giveth More Grace / Annie J. Flint

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.