How We Are Seen

Michael Beck

“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.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-3)

We all like to be thought well of. We’re happy when we know one thinks highly of us; we’re sad when we discover another thinks little of us. Paul was well aware of how others saw him. He was honored in the eyes of some; despised by others.
Men have their standards. We can meet those standards, or be weighed in their balance and be found wanting. (Dan. 5:27) When compared to other “powerhouse” ministers that the Corinthians knew, Paul failed to measure up. Instead of becoming angry at them for not recognizing his worth, the great apostle told them how they should look at him, simply as a “servant of Christ,” and a “steward of God.”

A servant has a master who alone he must please. Jesus told His disciples that no man can serve two masters. Paul knew he could not live to fulfill the expectations of men and those of his Lord Jesus Christ. Someone had to be disappointed, and it would not be his Lord. “… For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10) He reminded the church to be careful in their judgment of each other. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth …” (Rom. 14:4) Servants are accountable to their own masters, no one else.

Paul also knew himself to be a “steward of the mysteries of God.” He was commissioned by God to make known to all nations the “revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” (Rom. 16:25) He called what he preached “my gospel,” not because it originated with him, but because he had been especially entrusted with it.

We are not all called to be apostles, but there are things that God has given each of us to do. Our lives may fall short in the eyes of men. We may not have been or done what they thought we should have. Is it a “very small thing” for us to be judged by them? Or, does their negative opinion of us cause us sorrow? Paul wanted above all else to simply be faithful to what his Lord and God had given him to do.

This is not the day to be assessed, even by ourselves. The day is coming when we will stand before the judgment seat of our Master. He will give the final evaluation for the deeds done in our body. Then, according to how faithful we have been to Him, He will offer us faint or much praise. Do we yearn for His “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord”?

What matters most to us: how we are seen by God or man? For the joy set before you, despise the shame that men might heap upon you for not doing what they think good. Faithfulness is all that matters in the eyes of God. It has eternal significance and will win us an eternal reward.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.