Summary: This week we’re going to talk about the difference between how we want to be perceived as Christians, and how we should be perceived. Learn how we’re nothing special, but we’ve got an important job to do.
How do you like to be seen? What’s the image you like to portray to the outside world? Maybe for you its self confidence, or knowledgeable, or “too cool for school”.
At a golf course, four men approached the sixteenth tee. The straight fairway ran along a road and bike path fenced off on the left.
The first golfer teed off and hooked the ball in that direction. The ball went over the fence and bounced off the bike path onto the road, where it
hit the tire of a moving bus and was knocked back on to the fairway.
As they all stood in amazement, one man asked him, "How on earth did you do that?"
He shrugged his shoulders and said, "You have to know the bus schedule."
So maybe you’re one of those guys who turns a bad shot off the tee into a way to show off your knowledge – you meant to do it that way.
Well, today we’re going to talk about the difference between how we want to be perceived as Christians, and how we should be perceived. Remember the end of chapter 3 – Paul gave us the key to his message: we are free as long as we are subject to Christ who is subject to God. The problem in Corinth was that a whole bunch of people were so caught up in their own selves and who they knew that they forgot about all that. And they figured that Paul was really a nobody and who should listen to that guy anyway?
1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.
Paul says there are two ways I want you guys to think about us: servants and stewards.
1. “Servants” means “under-rowers.” They were the guys at the bottom of the ship that rowed, following the orders of the guy above. “We’re not supermen” Paul says, just regular guys taking orders like you.
2. But we are also “those entrusted.” The NIV rendering there of the Greek word for steward. This was the guy who administered the house for the owner – ordered 50 gallon drums of milk from Costco when they were running low and stuff like that.
So we’re nothing special, but we’ve got an important job to do. The Corinthians probably agreed with the first title – under rower. Get down in the bottom of the boat and “pull!” But steward?
We’ve go to be sure that when we deal with others in the body of Christ that all row at the same time, instead of using our oars to hit the other rowers – or not row at all. We all know what happens then – the boat goes in circles. We do that by giving respect to the job the other person has to do.
The “secret things of God” does not mean that these guys possessed confidential data that was on a “need to know” basis – like the upper echelons of management circles. Paul is referring to the secret of Jesus Christ – a secret that was now out. It also shows the focus of their message – not power or prestige, but the spreading of the gospel.
So next, Paul gives some characteristics of what a Servant/Steward should be like:
2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
The bottom line is: are you trustworthy to carry out what the Lord has told you to do? That’s the mark of a good steward. It’s not how many converts you got compared to the other guy – you may lead to only one salvation your whole life – but if you obeyed what God told you to do, then you were a faithful servant.
3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
This isn’t some arrogant boast – “I’m so above you that it doesn’t matter what you say about me.” And he’s not exempting himself from human government oversight. What he’s saying is that I don’t care what you say about me, or what any human says about me – I don’t even care what I say about myself – what matters to me is what the Lord says about me – have I been faithful to what He has called me to do.
4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
We get so worried about what other people think about us or expect of us – and we get so condemned by that “feeling that we’ve done something wrong” or that we haven’t done enough. That’s the meaning of the word “conscience”. Do you sometimes feel like you blew it – you didn’t say enough, you said too much – what’s important is that you listen to the Lord, do what He says by the power of the Spirit – do your best – then leave the results up to him.