1Co 4:5-7 “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. And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
We make a lot of mistakes in life because we are impatient. My grandfather used to tell me “Boy, don’t try crossing that bridge until you get there.” It seems we have just as much trouble waiting on the Lord and His judgement. We should never judge anything based on our own understanding.
I do not think that Paul was telling the church that they could not make any decisions until after Jesus returns at the final resurrection. Rather, he was correcting them for not seeking the Lord’s guidance before divisions erupted among them. When we seek the Lord and wait for His appearing in our daily lives, we will avoid making a lot of bad decisions. This is true of the church as a collective body and of us as individual members of that body.
Most of us have experienced times in our lives when we were not sure how to move forward. The step before us was dark and murky, and we were unsure of our decision. We have also experienced the relief of asking the Lord for guidance, waiting for the guidance to come, and them being amazed at how clearly we saw the right thing. The Lord’s promise to us is that, every time He comes, He shines a light into the dark places and shows us plainly the thoughts of our hearts.
When we wait on Him for our decisions, we are able to decide righteously. The path forward becomes one that honors and glorifies God. We are moved to give Him praise, and He praises us in our faithfulness. His praise of us comes in the form of demonstrating to others, through us, the truth of His unfailing love and grace.
It is important for the church to understand that her ministers are not outside the same principles and governing factors as the rest of the congregation. Paul made a point to demonstrate how all that he was teaching them applied to himself, Apollos, and any other men that God might send. It is for the sake of the church that pastors, teachers, deacons, song leaders, etc. be seen as what they are… servants.
The church as a whole needs to understands that we, individually, are servants for Christ’s sake. To know what it means to be a servant in the courts of the Lord, we must study His word and trust Him for understanding. As we study, we will learn to not make rash decisions concerning other men. We will see the error of esteeming men or boasting of one above another. In waiting on the Lord to shine His light on the matter, we will avoid division and the sin of thinking more of men than the scripture tells us to.
By his rhetorical argument in verse seven, Paul causes us to consider ourselves in our relationship with God. Who makes me to be different from those pursuing the things of the world? It is God alone. What do I have that was not given to me? My life is His; my hope is His; my love is His; my beloved family (both naturally and spiritually) is His; my salvation is His; the church is His; the world I live in is His; I am His!
May God cause us to glory in Him, the giver of all good and perfect gifts and judge nothing before the time!