Session 3 – Commended by God
We have already talked in other posts about how the world will often receive us, or the Word. Not well, for the most part. But they need it. We know that. They don’t need it “in their face” or harsh, or judgmental, but they do need the message of a loving God who is concerned for their welfare, and desires to lift the guilt, bear the burden, walk out of the tomb with their shame.
But honestly, sometimes it’s just hard to keep going. It’s hard to be misunderstood and shut down by a world steeped in sin and reeking of hurt and distrust.
In walks 1 Corinthians 4:1-5:
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.” (v.3)
Perhaps this is a good memory verse. No matter what age I am, I am still outgrowing both my judgment of others and my reaction to their judgment. Oh, how I wish it were different! It’s better than it was when I was 12. In fact, I can see a difference with every passing year and every candle added to the birthday cake. Time in the Word, and experience grants wisdom. But we need to acknowledge the struggle. It is hard to be turned down, rejected, sent away by a world that has no use for God’s justice or God’s grace.
But, we are not commended by the world. We are commended by God.
What does that mean? He has written His letter of recommendation. He has signed His name and sent it to all corners of the world. He cares that it’s hard, but He has fully endorsed us. We aren’t sent by our own accord, or a boss, or on a family errand. We are entrusted to our task of love by a God who pours it into us. When we are tempted to be our own worst critic, the passage above reminds us that, not even our own opinion of ourselves matters in God’s language. He cares what He thinks. And He calls us good, and worthwhile, and commendable.
Paul continues the topic in 2 Corinthians 10:12-18:
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
We can continue sharing, and inviting, and reaching, because it is the Lord who commends us. We are commendable. We are “well reported of, spoken kindly of, reputable, laudable, acceptable*.” By the only One whose opinion matters.
Discussion questions – What experiences have you had that make it hardest to share your faith? What stumbling blocks do you see around you, to the world hearing the message?
*see interlinear Greek at biblehub.com
(Emphasis added to ESV Bible passages by blog author.)