1Co 4:3-4 “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. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.”
The Lord of glory gives to us great grace. We know that it is not in man to be unconcerned with what others think. We often dress in a way that will gain the approval of our peers. Our conversation is often tailored to gain us the respect of our audience. It makes us feel good about ourselves to hear that others have complimented us in one way or another.
Because of our human nature, it is a big deal for Paul to declare it a small thing to be judged by his brethren at Corinth. This was not a boast on Paul’s part that he could not care less what people thought of him. Paul was confessing his understanding that he did not belong to men but to God.
Obviously there were some at Corinth that judged Paul to be something special. There were many among the Jews that saw Paul as a traitor worthy of death. Others saw him as a busybody who was interfering with their livelihood by declaring the idols they made and sold to be an abomination before the Lord. Some saw him as worthy of honor while others desired to see him imprisoned at the very least.
Often the judgement of men made Paul’s physical life a misery. He was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and stoned and left for dead. It is surprising (on the surface at least) for Paul to consider being judged by men a “very small thing.” However, the true depth of God’s grace can be seen in Paul’s assertion that he was free from judging himself!
How often in our lives do we deem ourselves unworthy of love? How many times do we decide that people must think we are inadequate because of the way we see ourselves? Perhaps we are having a good day and decide that we are indeed good people. Left to our own devices, we judge ourselves many times a day for good of ill.
When the Spirit reveals to us that we are not our own, but bought with a price, then we begin to be delivered from this trap of self-judgement. It is only when we understand that we belong to the Lord that we cease to be concerned about the judgement of others. We no longer worry about the judgement of men nor do we feel compelled to be constantly judging ourselves.
The reason for this is that we no longer vacillate between what men think of us and what we think of ourselves. We are new creatures in Christ and find ourselves clothed in His righteousness. We no longer “know” according to our own conceits but put our trust in the mercy and grace of God who has loved us with an everlasting love. We know that we are not justified in ourselves but find peace in knowing that the Lord of life is our judge.
May God grant us the joy of trusting who we are in Him!