“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” (1 Cor. 13:9)
Men always get only part of the story. They see things from their angle, or hear what others want them to hear. But there is always more to every story than what appears on the surface.
Pride causes men to be overconfident that they know more than they actually do. Many in the Corinthian church gloried in their knowledge and thought they had Paul figured out. Paul told them that it mattered little to him how they saw him. (1 Cor. 4:1) He committed himself to the judgment of the one, just Judge, who one day “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (1 Cor. 4:5).
When our conscience is clear there is great rest in the knowledge that God knows and will one day bring all things to light. Paul knew nothing against himself, but was humble enough to acknowledge that such did not justify him. (1 Cor. 4:4) Only God knows the whole story. Paul warned the Corinthians to be careful of high-minded, premature conclusions about anyone or anything. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come …” (1 Cor. 4:5)
At the judgment seat of Christ, we will know even as we are known. Many of the rewards given us by men on earth will be revoked, and many a criticism will find our Lord’s commendation. God would have us cease from the anxious desire to be vindicated in men’s eyes. Our Master left this earth reviled and condemned as the worst of the worst. He was esteemed “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” (Isa. 53:4) But God did not think as they thought He did.
It is folly to expect to be rightly known by men who are so limited in knowledge and partial in judgment. It is also folly to think that we ourselves can know every angle and aspect of a matter. Those who do will undoubtedly be in for some surprises in the day of judgment.
Walk in humility. Walk in love. Our knowledge can miss the mark, but love never fails. We can “have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge” but we are nothing if we are without love.