By Michael Youssef, Ph D. May 21, 2020
Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.
The famous journalist Horace Greeley once opined, “Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wings.” He is attributed with later adding: “Only one thing endures—character.” I think he was spot on. The trouble is there are different standards for measuring a person’s character. Paul addresses this issue in his first letter to the Corinthians, noting three judgment courts our actions must face.
The first is the court of public opinion. Like it or not, we are all judged by the world around us. Paul wrote, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court” (1 Corinthians 4:3). Though it may sound callous, Paul was being honest: What others think of us is not the most important thing.
The second is our conscience. If a person is brought up in a Biblically sound home and is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, then their conscience will likely guide them well. Paul values the conscience, but he knows it is not always a reliable guide (see 1 Corinthians 4:4).
Finally, there is the supreme court—God Himself, the Judge who “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart” (1 Corinthians 4:5). In the end, God’s verdict is really the only one that matters. We must live out the humility of Christ, who put the will of His Father above all else.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for seeking the approval of man or of my own conscience before seeking Your will. Help me to rightly prioritize my goals in accordance with what pleases You, my God. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:4).