Preached at Riverview (798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN) the Evening of January 11, 2017
Audio Sermon Here
1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (KJV) Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.  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.  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.
People have a bad tendency to read the Bible out of context. This is one reason I like preaching THROUGH the Bible books. When you read and study the Bible in context then there are less errors. For instance, people are fond of quoting:
Matthew 7:1 (KJV) Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Luke 6:37 (KJV) Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Romans 14:13 (KJV) Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
and even in our text today:
1 Corinthians 4:3-4 (KJV) 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.
People often love to quote the “do not judge” passages when they are doing things that the Scripture declares sinful (and yes, there are things that the Scripture declares sinful or unworthy of a Child of God). The reality is that the Bible tells us there are times when we should judge and times when we should not judge. In the next chapter the Apostle chastises the Corinthians because:
1 Corinthians 5:1 (KJV) It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
There was open sexual sin in the congregation. The Apostle told them:
1 Corinthians 5:11-12 (KJV) But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat.  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
Open sexual sin is to be judged in the Church, and never to be accepted as normal. Whether heterosexual or homosexual, sexual sins damage the Body and are to be recognized as wrong. In order to do this you cannot look the other way. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 6 the Apostle chastises the Church for not judging small matters within the Church. He wrote:
1 Corinthians 6:2-3 (KJV) Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
So judgment is not forbidden in every case. When Jesus said “Judge not, lest ye be judged” in context He was telling the Pharisees among us to “get the beam out of your eye before you judge the splinter in another’s eye”. It is the hypocrite that judges others before he judges himself.
So back to our text. What is the Apostle talking about when he says “I don’t even judge myself”. He is talking about
Judging The Stewardship Of Others
In the previous chapter the Apostle spoke of the Judgment Seat of Christ. We studied this Sunday night. The Judgment Seat of Christ is where Christ judges your works as to whether they are worthy of reward or not. The Judgment Seat of Christ is not a judgment for salvation, but for STEWARDSHIP. Did you do what God wanted you to do with what He gave you? I’ll repeat that:
Did you do what God wanted you to do with what He gave you?
That’s what the Apostle is talking about in this chapter – our Stewardship. The Corinthians were comparing the Apostle Paul’s ministry with the Evangelist Apollo’s ministry, and many were saying “Paul has been tried in the balance and found wanting”. But as Paul said in another context:
Romans 14:4 (ESV) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
This chapter deals with STEWARDSHIP. The Apostle said:
1 Corinthians 4:2 (KJV) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
The Corinthians were comparing the Apostle Paul’s stewardship to that of Apollos, and to them Apollos was head and shoulders above Paul. But it is God Who gives each one of us our stewardship. Each believer in Christ is given a talent, a gift, a ministry, a thing that God requires they be faithful in.
It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful!
The Steward is faithful to the one that gave them the talent to invest.
It is not what the WORLD says that validates our stewardship.
It is not what OTHER BELIEVERS say that validates our stewardship.
It is not even what I THINK that validates my stewardship.
It is what GOD thinks, WHAT GOD SAYS, whether GOD smiles or frowns.
The steward is to have his or her eyes on God at all times. Are we being faithful to Him, or are we moving to please the lesser? The Steward is to be faithful in investing what he has been given for the glory of God. Jesus spoke of this in The Parable of the Talents. He said:
Matthew 25:14-30 (KJV) For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.  Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.  And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.  But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.  And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Master is traveling to a far country, and calls His stewards. The Master is a picture of Christ Who, dying for our sins, rising for our justification, now “sitting on the right hand of God in glory” (Acts 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1). Jesus is in that Far Country on God’s right hand, waiting for the Father to say “Go, bring My Children home”. He has departed, but He will return. But leaving us He gave us stewardship of what is His. The Bible says:
vvs 15. unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one;
to every man according to his several ability
Every steward got talents according to his several ability. What God has given you in stewardship is what God has determined you can handle. Some are given FIVE, some TWO, another ONE, but what you have been given you have been given in love. God knows what you can handle. When the Lord returned the man with the FIVE talents said:
vvs 20. Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents:
behold, I have gained beside them five talents more
Standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ the Lord tells him:
vvs 21. His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
The man given TWO talents stands before Christ’s Judgment Seat, saying:
vvs 22. Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents:
behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
Though he had the lesser talents he invested those talents and doubled them. His reward was exactly the same as the man who received five talents. The Lord said:
vvs 23. His Lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
I find it interesting that the one who had FIVE talents and the one who had TWO talents receive the exact same reward. They both were made rulers “over many things”. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer together with Him we will reign with Him”. God will repay what we have done for Him for Christ is faithful!
But then we come to the person who was given ONE talent. What did he do? Jesus said:
vvs 24-25 Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
That man was not commended for burying the talent in the earth. No, the Lord said called him
vvs 26. Thou WICKED and SLOTHFUL servant ..
and said vvs 27. You should have put my money to the exchangers
Rather than being a faithful steward the faithless steward could have given the talent to someone else to invest. Instead the steward hid the money, and all investment was lost. This man lost his talent. It was taken away and given to the faithful steward. The Lord said:
Matthew 25:30 (KJV) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I don’t know what this “outer darkness” is, but I want no part of it. I don’t want to be cast into a place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. I want to take the stewardship given me and invest it to the glory of Christ.
It Was Fear That Kept The Unprofitable Servant From Investing What He Was Given
1 Corinthians 4:3 (KJV) 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.
Paul did not allow fear of what others might think or say drive his ministry. He said “with me it is a VERY SMALL THING that I should be judged of you, OR OF ANY MAN”. Now Paul was not an obnoxious person. He didn’t go around wanting to hurt people’s feelings. Paul declared:
Romans 12:18 (NKJV) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
1 Corinthians 9:19 (NIV) Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
Paul lowered himself to reach others for Christ – but never allowed anyone to tell him how to invest his talent but God. He did not hide the Gospel. He was not lazy in reaching out to the lost. But Paul never compromised the Talent he had been given. He was always faithful to the Master.
Fear of others and what others may say can be a snare that keeps us from Kingdom Life. We are told in
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.
To bury your talent rather than invest it to the glory of God is a horribly bad idea. Paul even said:
Yea, I judge not mine own self
This doesn’t mean that the Apostle didn’t watch his life to make sure sin – like termites – didn’t enter in. No, he judged himself and weeded sin out. He put on the Lord Jesus Christ and did not make provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14) just as every believer should do. But Paul kept his eyes on the Lord. When we are investing our talent we might not see results right away. Think of it this way:
At the time the Apostle Paul ministering the only Bible was the Old Testament. Churches were just being formed. The New Testament was slowly being written by Apostles, but would not be gathered together as a Book until over 300 years later. Apollos was more popular than Paul in his preaching. Paul could have gotten discouraged and quit the ministry, but he didn’t. In fact, Paul encouraged us by saying:
Galatians 6:9 (KJV) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Paul kept on going. Now let me ask you:
How many New Testament Books did APOLLOS write? – 0
How many New Testament Books did PAUL write? – 13
How many Churches did APOLLOS found? – 0
How many Churches did PAUL found? – 14
Who had more impact for Christ, APOLLOS or PAUL?
Both did as God called them, but I think it is safe to say that Apollos, though he did well, Paul did well also. Do not let another person judge your stewardship. Live with your eyes on Jesus. Be like Paul who said:
1 Corinthians 4:4-5 (KJV) For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.  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.
Labor. Invest. Live for Jesus! For the Judgment Seat of Christ is coming. May God touch your hearts with His Word.