• Matt Beaney

#492 (30/11/21) JUDGE NOTHING (1 COR. 4:3-5)



This week’s devotionals are based on 1 Corinthians 4

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 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.’ (4:3-5)

I thought that it would be important to think a bit more about judgement. What is meant by ‘judge nothing’? The term “do not judge me” is often used, but do we really know what we mean by it? For many, I think they simply mean, “Don’t say things that I don’t like to hear and that disagree with my opinion”. We all make judgement all the time. If you wanted a babysitter, I assume that you would judge if the person was suitable! If someone was given leadership in the church, I assume that you would want them to be judged as to whether they were suitable! If you were employing someone, you’d judge if they were the right fit. We make judgements all the time. We would die or be in a real mess if we didn’t! How are Christians to judge each other properly?


i) HOW WE ARE NOT TO JUDGE

There is a tale called The Boy Who Cried Wolf. In order to get attention or maybe because he was a bit twitchy, the shepherd boy kept crying wolf and alerting the village to a danger that didn’t really exist. When a wolf really did come to attack the flock, no one responded!


We can create a ‘cry wolf’ culture that is suspicious of others and leaders in particular. This is not good. We are told that ‘love always trusts, always hopes…’ We are to believe the best of others unless there is a real reason to take action.


It’s wrong to judge the heart and motives of others. Our text reads, ‘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.’ Paul is specifically warning against the Corinthians' culture of judging the heart and motives of others.

Many of our poor relationships are based upon supposition. We hypothesise about the heart motives of others based on a look, a word, a failure to meet expectations, appearance… None of us has x-ray vision. Let’s love people by trusting and hoping.


ii) HOW WE ARE TO JUDGE

We are to judge. The Bible teaches that we are to do so. However, we must be clear as to what this means.


Throughout 1 Corinthians, we are being given fatherly correction on how to judge leaders, and others correctly.


Firstly, Judgment is about having positive regard for others in accord with their God-given identity. We are told

‘This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.’ (1 Corinthians 4:1)

Secondly, when it comes to correction, judgement is to be based upon actions and expressed beliefs. For example, in chapter 5 we read,

‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”’ (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

Jesus tells us to judge our leaders in this way,

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.” (Matthew 7:15-16)

False leaders are revealed by their sinful lives and not because we have a super-sense. The problem with our intuition is that it can lead to preferring and being suspicious along lines of class, race, age, gender, speech… this must not be allowed. Integrity is a matter of fact; It’s seen in people whose talk and walk are consistent.


In 1 Timothy Paul writes about the care that should be taken in the way we judge leaders,

‘Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.’ (1 Timothy 5:19-20)

So let’s learn to judge carefully. It’s wrong to judge the heart and motives. The devil is an accuser and he is always at work to get you to join his team! We must beware of creating a suspicious and judgemental culture because of what we read in the news or even what we hear of from other churches. May the warning of Jesus never be true of us,

‘Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.’ (Matthew 24:12)


OVER TO YOU - PRAY AND WORSHIP OUT OF THE BIBLE

I’ve made a few comments. However, it’s more important that you engage with the text yourself. Take a moment to pray and listen to God’s voice out of today’s text.

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 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.’ (4:3-5)

I find it helpful to use the following questions which are based upon The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13).


1. Praise - What does this text teach me about God? What can I praise Him for?

2. Petitions - What does this teach me about His will for me and others? What could I pray for from this text? This is a good time to pray for our non-believing. friends. It’s good to ask, Is the Holy Spirit leading me in any specific response?

3. Peace-making - Is the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin for which I need forgiveness? Do I need to forgive others?

4. Protection - Ask for God’s protection generally and for any specific areas of vulnerability. Am I believing lies regarding the truths in this text?

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


Let's be talking, planning and praying about who we could invite to our carol service.






Please feel free to use these as a digital invite for your friends.


Here is the link for you to book ticket for yourself and your friends:

https://www.communitychurchputney.com/carol-service-2021

2. Icebreaker

How has God spoken to you from the Bible this week?


3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


On Sunday, we looked at 1 Corinthians 4. Rather than reading the whole chapter together, I'll pick out a few verses.


In this chapter, Paul is seeking to deflate the pride of many in the Corinthian church. Pride is deflated in many ways:


i) PRIDE IS DEFLATED BY SERVICE

'This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.' (1 Corinthians 4:1)

Remembering that Jesus is our Lord is vital to humility. Pride puts itself in the place of God, humility seeks worship and obedience for Jesus.



ii) PRIDE IS DEFLATED BY GOD'S WORD

'Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.' (1 Corinthians 4:6)

Seeking to obey and learn what the bible says about leadership will humble us. Any study of the leaders of the Bible will teach us that they were all reliant on God's grace for gifts and victory.


iii) PRIDE IS DEFLATED BY FOOLISHNESS

'We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honoured, we are dishonoured!' (1 Corinthians 4:10)

Many at Corinth were seeking to have high status by the standards of their culture and they wanted their leaders to do the same. Seeking to be 'fools for Christ' - being open about the gospel and our faith will keep us humble.


iii) PRIDE IS DEFLATED BY DISCIPLINE

'I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me... What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?' (1 Corinthians 4:14-16, 21)

Pride is deflated by God's discipline - His correction. This disciline comes through relationships, circumstances, God's word and church leaders. Pride hates correction, humility know that it needs others' correction and advice.


A good definition of humility is,

'humility is confidence properly placed'.

Pride, however, moves its confidence onto self and worldly methods.


Discussion questions

1. 'Humility is confidence properly placed': how can this definition be applied in our lives?

2. How have you personally struggled with pride in your life?

3. Which of the four 'deflators' of pride do you feel most challenged about?

4. SIV - Let's share, plan and pray about those that we are inviting to the carol service on 5th December.







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