B.C.P. Advent 3 : I Cor.4:1-5
1Co:4:1: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2: Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3: But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4: For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5: 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.
What have you got to do to be ready for Christmas Day ? Presents to get or to wrap? Cards to write ? Turkey to order & collect ?
Today's readings and collect suggest that our time before Christmas, indeed all of our time should be spent ensuring that we are ready for the second coming of Jesus. Not just preparing to celebrate his first coming. Not only that, a responsibility is placed on myself and other ministers to prepare God's people for Jesus' return.
The background to this letter of Paul to the Corinthians is that there were divisions in the Corinthian Church with some of them following different teachers. Those who did not follow Paul were denouncing him, and Paul writes to them to show that it is God who is the judge, and we will all have to give an account of how we have lived our lives to him.
1Co:4:1: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Paul describes himself as a servant of Christ, contra minister.
A servant is required to do the will of his/her master, and Paul is pointing out to whom he is accountable.
He is a steward of the mysteries of God. The message of God in the Bible, revealed by the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal God and the truth about God. He inspired it, he enables us to understand it. Once understand it is so obvious and simple. c.f Eva.
2: Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
A steward is in charge of something or someone on behalf of another. e.g. household of master. Is responsible for it's protection and use. Every Christian is entrusted with the truths of the Bible. Therefore, we are all called to use responsibly and guard carefully what God has entrusted to us. Principally his word, the Bible, our salvation, and the gifts that he has given to every one of us to build up his church.
3: But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4: For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
Paul is being condemned by some of the Corinthians. Paul mentions that this matters little because all human judgment can be flawed. It is someone else's problem if they condemn us, rather than our own.
Paul says that his conscience is clear, but that does not mean he is innocent. Even his own human judgments can be flawed. There is only one who can judge properly, God.
5: 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.
Therefore, the application.
Judge nothing before the time, before the return of Jesus. Leave the judging to God, for he will expose people's motives and judge them accordingly.
Everyone will be judged by God. Christians will be judged according to how good they have been as stewards of what God has given them. ( 2 Cor. 5:10 ) Jesus illustrated this with the parable about the servants use of the talents.
Paul says that those who God has found to be faithful stewards will receive the praise of God when he judges them. Those Christians who have not used or abused what has been given them will still be with God in eternity, but will not be rewarded like the faithful stewards.
A Roman aqueduct at Segovia in native Spain was built in 109 A.D. For eighteen hundred years, it carried cool water from the mountains to the hot and thirsty city. Nearly sixty generations of men drank from its flow. Then came another generation, a recent one, who said, "This aqueduct is so great a marvel that it ought to be preserved for our children, as a museum piece. We shall relieve it of its centuries-long labour."
They did; they laid modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient bricks and mortar a reverent rest. And the aqueduct began to fall apart. The sun beating on the dry mortar caused it to crumble. The bricks and stone sagged and threatened to fall. What ages of service could not destroy idleness disintegrated.
So let us prepare. Not for Christmas. Not for worldly wealth or status. Let us prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus.
By not judging people, that's God's job.
By using all God has entrusted to us in his service.