1 Corinthians 4
The Greek word for faithful, pistos, can mean having saving faith or a person’s faithfulness.
God is faithful.
Jesus is a faithful high priest.
God who promised is faithful.
God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
In Rev. 19, Jesus is called faithful and true.
Rev. 21:5 and 22:6, the word is faithful.
We are called to this same faithfulness.
Jesus often talked about faithful slaves or good and faithful servants.
Faithfulness in this passage is linked to humility.
Humility is the virtue that produces faithfulness.
Psalm 31, the Lord preserves the faithful and recompenses the proud.
Pride is an opposite of faithfulness.
Spurgeon says that we have a choice between being humble and being humbled.
Our world system does not desire or embrace humility.
The true man of God fights for humility.
He will sacrifice for his Lord before seeking the admiration of the crowd.
John the Baptist’s greatness was in the attitude that would make him say, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
Paul said, “I am the least of the apostles…”
God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to help him remain humble.
MacArthur suggests that the thorn in the flesh was demonically inspired people in Corinth who opposed the gospel.
Five elements that manifest the humility of Paul.
- He was content to be a lowly servant.
The word for servant here is the lowest servant form in the NT.
IT is a word used for slaves in the under-decks on a slave ship.
Paul presents himself as a third level galley slave.
Luke also uses that term for apostles.
John 18:36, Jesus calls his disciples the same term—3rd level galley slaves.
In Acts, Jesus calls Paul this type of servant.
This type of slave is to do his master’s will without any interest in his own personal worth or dignity.
1 Cor. 3:5, Paul and Apollos are servants, not anything.
Always be content to be a lowly servant.
There is nothing glamorous about this kind of service.
Also, in verse 1, we are stewards, house managers.
A steward distributes goods and food to people in the household.
We feed the flock of God.
We are stewards of God.
We serve humbly, dispensing what is not even ours.
We dispense NT truth.
We are primarily NT preachers.
1 Tim. 6:20, guard what has been entrusted to you.
What is that?
The truth, the word of God
Guard that as a treasure that you distribute.
2 Tim. 1:13, guard the treasure.
- He was content to be judged by God.
Preachers do something that no other people do.
We bring to people the good news.
A bond forms as you continue to feed people the word of God.
People will love the one who delivers the truth to them.
Paul says that it is a small thing, the smallest thing, that he be judged by humans.
Eph. 3:8 uses this word for less than the least.
Someone else judging me has absolutely no significance.
It could not mean less.
The Galatians called Paul a man-pleaser.
Then Paul told them that the one who preaches another gospel is to be damned.
Does that sound like a man-pleaser?
Human praise is the least significant verdict on any of our ministries.
Paul cannot even examine himself.
His acquittal of himself does not mean anything.
Prov. 21:2, the Lord weighs the heart.
My conscience may be clear, and that is a defense, but it is not a perfect defense. I am biased in my own favor.
The final verdict comes from heaven. The Lord is the one who examines me, verse 4.
Verse 5 stop the comparisons.
Stop trying to elevate one teacher above another.
When Christ comes, he will make the right judgment, the true judgment, the one that matters.
Praise for us will only come based on what matters and our heart.
- He was content to be equal with other servants.
Paul talked about himself and Apollos as an illustration.
Do not go too far into pride.
James reminds us that God opposes the proud.
1 Peter 5:5 tells us the same thing.
Scripture always exalts humility and debases pride.
Paul wants us to learn not to be proud when the Scripture forbids it.
In Philippians, Paul talked about people wanting to get ahead by stepping on him while he was in prison.
Paul says that he rejoices when Christ is preached, even when the motives of other preachers is false.
You are nothing.
You are a slave and steward.
There is no place for boasting or self-elevation.
Paul gets sarcastic.
You are filled and rich and kings.
You have it all.
You’ve arrived spiritually.
You did it without us.
Give yourself all the credit.
I wish you had made it to be kings.
I’d be happy to be brought along in your success.
But they are being brought back to reality.
How you react to the praises of others speaks of your pride or humility.
- He was content to suffer.
God has made a spectacle of Paul and the apostles.
You are smart and we are dumb.
We are weak and without honor.
Our lives have all sorts of hardships’.
Lots of hardships.
We are content to be rejected.
We are content in being common.
We are content to have no honor.
- He was content to sacrifice his reputation.
Paul met slander regularly.
We are scum of the earth.
We are the dregs.
We are the crud on the bottom.
Our message is foolish to the perishing.
We are not going to be popular in the world.
We cannot be popular with the non-Christian world.
We are not popular with unfaithful people who claim Christ.
And if we are not humble enough, God will humble us more.
1 Pet. 5:5, be clothed with humility.
James 4:10, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt you.