Problems Plaguing a Local Church,
Part 8

In our message, MANAGERS ARE CALLED TO BE FAITHFUL (1 Cor. 4:1-5) we continued to look at the Bible’s discussion of Christian accountability today, and also at the judgment seat of Christ.

Paul starts this section of Scripture saying, “Let a man so consider us…” referring to himself, Apollos, and any other human authority the Christians looked up to at that time (1 Cor. 4:1). They and we should simply think of them as “servants” of God and “stewards” of all that the Lord has given them (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4; 4:1). Not only should we view all our teachers in this way, but we should “consider” ourselves too to be “servants of Christ and stewards of [His]… mysteries” (1 Cor. 4:1).

  • The word for “servant” here is not the normal Greek word diákonos (i.e. 1 Cor. 3:5) from where we get the title ‘deacon,’ but it is hupērĕtēs which means an ‘under-rower’ (1 Cor. 4:1). This was used of slaves who rowed at the bottom of a Roman ship under the authority of a master who coordinated their voyage (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 2:10; Heb. 12:1-2, etc.). Likewise, we, as “servants of Christ,” are called to row when and where the Master wants us to for His kingdom and glory (1 Cor. 4:1).
  • And the word “steward” here (a word closely related to “dispensation” in Ephesians 1:10; 3:2, etc.) means “MANAGER” (1 Cor. 4:2 NLT- caps my emphasis). In that culture, it was used for an individual entrusted with the authority and administration of a large estate. Directed privilege is the idea because a “steward” is a servant who manages everything for his master but who himself owns nothing (John 15:5, etc.). In the previous verses of chapter 3 we were shown that in Christ we as the church possess “all things” (1 Cor. 3:21-22). And, as His managers, He has made us “the household of the faith” and the only “pillar and ground of the truth” in the world today (1 Tim. 3:15; Gal. 6:10; 1 Cor. 3:16, etc.). As managers of all “the mysteries” of His kingdom, the Lord wants us to be “faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1-2; Col. 2:8-9, see also 1 Cor. 2:7, 9-10; 13:2; 14:2, etc.).

The Word, once again, says here, “… it is required in stewards [AKA MANAGERS] that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). Faithfulness means trustworthiness or reliability, and we can see from the Bible here that the “carnal” Christians the Holy Spirit was addressing at this time were neither (1 Cor. 3:1-4 vs. Eph. 5:18; 1 John 1:9, etc.). What does it mean today for a Christian to live a life that is ‘FULL OF FAITH’? (1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Tim. 2:12-13; 1 Cor. 3:14 vs 1 Cor. 3:15; Luke 12:41-48, etc.). According to God here, this is our SOLE responsibility as His “stewards” (1 Cor. 4:2; Rom. 14:4-5, 2 Cor. 5:7, 9-10, etc.). A good manager may not please his earthly family (Matt. 10:35-37), or even some of the other servants (Mark 10:28-30; Luke 9:23, etc.), but if we let Him carry out His interests through us, the Word says He also will graciously “reward” us (1 Cor. 3:14; 4:5; Eph. 5:18; Gal. 2:10; 6:14; 2 Cor. 5:7, 10; Col. 1:27-29; 1 Thes. 3:9-10; 1 Pet. 1:8-10; James 1:21; Jude 20-23; 1 Pet. 1:13; Jude 24-25; Phil. 1:6; 1 Pet. 5:10 NET, etc.).

Because of this Paul explains he is not concerned of what other people think of him or even of what he thinks of himself! (1 Cor. 4:3 NLT; Gal. 1:10; Phil. 3:13-15, etc.). His only concern as a manager of the riches of God’s kingdom was to see His master’s interests advanced (1 Cor. 5:8; Rom. 1:16; Phil. 1:21, etc.). We should not be focused on the popularity of other people, but only concerned with what Christ thinks of us (2 Cor. 5:9-10; Heb. 4:12-13; Matt. 10:28; Prov. 29:25, etc.). Like Paul, we should do our best to live blamelessly before God (1 Cor. 4:4a; 1 John 1:9), but at the same time we must remember it is the Lord who will ultimately test and evaluate all things (1 Cor. 4:4b; Heb. 4:12-13). Of course we must make judgments from time to time, but we should always do so according to God’s Word and with the knowledge that our understanding is imperfect because only the Lord knows the heart and inner thoughts of a person (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Cor. 2:11; Heb. 4:12-13, etc.). When we do help a brother or sister in need, it needs to be done by those “who are spiritual” (i.e. walking with God themselves) and “in a spirit of gentleness… to fulfill the law of Christ…” (Gal. 6:1-5; Eph. 4:15-16; 5:18, etc.). However, we know and are told here true resolution and justice for all things will not happen “until the Lord comes” (1 Cor. 4:5a). At that time, He alone will evaluate “the hidden counsels of darkness” in a Christian’s “heart” as He alone knows “counsels” of all people (1 Cor. 4:5). It is also in that day when “each one” of us as His children “appear[s]” before the Lord at “the judgment seat of Christ” and death is swallowed up in life as the fullness of His grace appears, our kind God also promises here “each one’s praise will come from” Him (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 4:5b; 1 Pet. 1:13; 2 Cor. 5:9-10, etc.). He, in His grace, will find “praise” for each of His children- even the most “carnal” (1 Cor. 3:1-2, 15; 4:5; Titus 2:11-14, etc.). May we take His Word to heart today living a life that manages what He has given us well (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; Luke 12:42; 1 Cor. 11:31-32; Rom. 12:1-2; 2 John 8; 1 John 2:28; 3:1-3; Rom. 8:18, 23, etc.).