1 Corinthians 4:1-13 ESV
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
As a servant you would be a subordinate to the master of the house and as a steward you would be the manager of the household and it would be up to you to make sure the needs of the others in the household were met. You would be given full access to what the master owned in order to provide those needs. So Paul wanted himself and the other apostles to be regarded as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries or the ones bringing the truth of who Christ is.
Paul struggled with the Corinthians since they were so proud of their power and worldly successes. Too proud to listen to someone who seemed to own nothing. Paul seems to be sarcastically saying the Corinthians had everything and he had nothing, they were wise and he was merely a fool for Christ. Totally dependent on someone other than himself and in his own abilities or in what he owned. In all reality Paul realized while he owned nothing he had access to everything he needed in order to do what his master, Jesus, wanted him to do but the Corinthians were too puffed up about who they were and all that they had to be listening to someone as low as Paul. I don't think Paul was speaking so much against the riches that the Corinthians had. He was trying to get them to understand that you don't judge someone by the world's standards to determine their importance. How much power and wealth you have should not determine who you are in Christ.
It almost sounds like Paul could be talking to us today. Do I look to those Christians that own much and are in high positions of power as the ones who have wisdom and the ones to be looked up to? Do I look at those that own little ones not as important or worth listening to? I should be looking at life the way Paul did, having Christ as my master, realizing that we really don't own anything but that everything belongs to God and is given to us by Him in order to serve others. I wish I could say I get it and live as Paul did but in my weakness I still find myself wanting to own the things I have and to have even more. I want to use what I have in my own way, rather than realizing all I have belongs to God who wants me to be a good steward of those things that He has made accessible to me to be used for His glory and goodness in serving others.
Knowing that by living like that all my needs will be met and as Paul has said, I can be totally content in all things, whether rich or poor, should keep me focused, but will it?
By Ken Edgerly