The word of the day is “judge.” Who are we to judge others? There is one Judge and one final time of Judgment. When we condemn others, even if we think they deserve it, we act as if the “End Time” had already come and we are sitting on the throne of Christ. Thus, we forget our own sinfulness by our concentration on the faults of others.
Today, in our reading of 1 Cor. 4:1-5, Paul answers those who are judging him. They are impugning his motives (9:1-14) and comparing him to their standards of wisdom in teaching and eloquence in preaching (1:17, 2:1).
Judging Others Puts Them on Trial
The Greek word for “judge” calls to mind the setting of a courtroom. The Corinthians were putting the apostle on trial and pronouncing a sentence on his ministry. But Paul replied that this condemnation was premature. The Lord Jesus Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. Humans cannot know the future outcome of anyone’s work. Nor can they peer into the secret intentions of the heart (vs. 5).
The Judgment on the Last Day
No, on the Last Day, the fire of God’s holiness will test the work that each of us has done on this earth (vs. 3:13). And Christ, the Righteous Judge, will reach a verdict on our stewardship of what God has called us to do in this life (3:3, 4:1). Moreover, the Lord warned that the same standards we use to denounce others would apply to us. Thus, we should set aside the judgment of others as the Lord Jesus said, “Judge not that you be not judged (Matt. 7:1).
The Desert Father Isaac, the Theban, once saw his fellow monk who was sinning, and he condemned his brother for it. When he returned to his cell, an angel stood blocking the door. “Why have you come, and why are you standing in my way?” Isaac asked the angel. “The Lord sent me to find out what you want me to do with the brother that you condemned. How shall I punish him?” said the angel. Isaac immediately saw his fault and fell down before the angel in repentance. The angel said, “Get up for the Lord has forgiven you. But now you know that you should beware of judging others before the time when God judges the world” (Jeremy 2014).