"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes." Verses from 1 Corinthians 4
I recently read these verses and am astonished that in my 30 some odd years of reading capability I have missed these precious truths! Oh how much grief I would have been spared had I known that Paul a) didn’t judge himself b) had a clear conscience, but still knew the Lord would judge and c) instructs us to wait until the Lord’s return to do any judging.
I posted this as my status for today on facebook and someone asked me what it means to me. Of course the question ‘What does it mean to me?’ can lead to wrong conclusions because Scripture has a meaning, the author intended to say something specific and it isn’t willy-nilly, pick-and-choose, cut-and-paste hermeneutics I am after. However, it is good to ask this question sometimes, as long as my answer doesn’t lead me down paths contrary to what Scripture teaches. The better question is, ‘What is Paul’s meaning, and why did God include these verses in His Book to us?’ But I was happy to answer it because it does mean something to me! Hopefully I am not a heretic in my response! Here is what I said: it means that I need to let God be the judge and not play the judge or play the victim. Both are inappropriate stances for me to take. Also, it means that having a clear conscience does not prove ones innocence. Sadly I often have a 'clear conscience' but later discover that I had been in error. Therefore, it is faulty to conclude that by my own reckoning I am deemed innocent. Further to that, I am thankful that Paul didn't even judge himself. So often people have promoted an idea to me of just the opposite - that I should judge myself! Maybe all judging, of self and others is best left until the Lord comes.
I hope to re-visit this – and probably will because if anything stirs my mental hornet’s nest this ranks close to the top – judging and being judged. It is something I’ve experienced, dealt with from both sides in my own heart and continue to face, sometimes on a daily basis. (Recently I was again told that a woman wearing pants is an abomination to God based on verses in Deuteronomy… but I digress… if I get started on that we’ll be here a long time). (Okay, I just have to put in the rest of that conversation because I was proud of my response. The person telling me this happened to be wearing flip-flops. So I said, ‘Did you know men wear flip-flops, so you are wearing something that pertains to men?’ She replied, ‘Well, I think it is only referring to clothing, not shoes.’ I left it at that because it was just too ridiculous to discuss – who revealed to her that God cares so much about the pants a woman wears but it doesn’t apply to her shoes? I also pointed out that Jesus probably wore a dress. But I didn’t get very far).