The Judgment That Matters


by Pat Tedeschi


1 Corinthians 4:1-5

In order to promote unity that reflects the Gospel, we must carefully consider how we regard our church leaders and our evaluations of them. Instead of making unbiblical judgments, we should give our energy and attention to the only judgment that really matters.


1.  How we should regard our church leaders? (vv. 1-2)

Church members should regard their leaders as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (that is, the Gospel and the truths of God revealed in the Scripture).

Pastors are responsible to serve as Christ calls them to serve-but those they serve in the church are not to decide how pastors are to serve. Only Jesus does that.

Pastors can sometimes allow themselves to feel unnecessary pressure from their congregation.  

Pastors are not required to do all that people may desire or expect. All we are required to do is what Jesus expects.

Pastors and church members are to serve Christ and the church with the mind or perspective of Jesus and the Gospel. See Philippians 2:2-8

When we love and serve each other as Christ did, we become a living testimony of the power of the Gospel- and God uses it to draw people to Himself.

2.  How should we regard our own judgments? (vv. 3-4)

Paul says if church members use the world’s wisdom to judge a church leader- or anyone for that matter, then their judgment means little when compared to God’s judgment.

Jesus is the only one capable and qualified to do judge.

In fact, Paul says he doesn’t even judge himself. He knows he can’t even trust his own judgment.

Even though he believes he’s been faithful to promote the Gospel in word and deed, that doesn’t mean he is without fault.

Paul clearly wants to be careful in and how he goes about his life and ministry, but he doesn’t want to get caught up in judging himself according to his own standards or even his own conscience.

He simply wants to concentrate on the work God has given him to do as a servant. In the end he will entrust himself to the only judgment that really matters.

3.  Look to the only judgment that really matters

Every one of us is prone to make unbiblical, inaccurate and premature judgments of others.

So Paul says, don’t judge before the appointed time- that is when Jesus returns- at that time Jesus will “bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart”.

The church is responsible to discern of how a person is living out what he says he believes, according to God’s Word. The church is to make judgments about outward works.

But here in verse 5 Paul is speaking about the heart.

God’s ultimate judgment is never flawed. God will expose the motivations and intentions each heart.  

Paul ends verse 5 in a surprising way- there he says, “Then each one will receive his commendation (or praise) from God”.

Maybe you’re not much different than the Corinthians- maybe you really do have your perspectives and priorities mixed up- maybe you really do need the correction that Paul has given.

Paul doesn’t want us to be satisfied with half-hearted service. He wants to spur us on to Christ-like thinking and living.

If you are in Jesus, God’s committed love is at work to complete what He began in you- and as you trust His Word in the power of the Spirit, He will conform you to the image of His Son.

“How wonderful! The king of the universe, the sovereign One one who has endured our endless rebellion and sought us out at the cost of his Son’s death, climaxes our redemption by praising us! He is a wise Father who knows how to encourage even the feeblest efforts of his children” (DA Carson).

Are we people in need of help? Yes we are.

Are we believers who need to be corrected for our inaccurate judgments and self-centered expectations? Yes we are.

But are we people greatly loved by a good father God, who is deeply committed to our good and glory in Jesus? Yes we are.

Then let that move you to live for Him, honor Him, trust Him and desire to hear those precious words from Him, “well done, good and faithful servant”.    



“Guilty of murder in the first degree”

That was the result of my recent three week experience with jury duty.

Serving on a murder trial was saddening, fascinating and tedious.  

It was also sobering.

Many times I felt the weight of two possible and sickening results: that we might declare an innocent man guilty, or that we might allow a guilty man to go free.  

Thankfully, the entire jury felt confident in the justice of our verdict.

As I sat though this experience, my thoughts often made comparisons between what was taking place before me and the final courtroom scene of God’s eternal judgment.

Here are some of those thoughts:

1.  In God’s courtroom, there is no confusing legalese or bureaucratic wrangling.

Every, thought, word, deed and motivation has been recorded. God will lay out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

2.  In God’s courtroom, there will be no jury.

The only voice that counts for eternity comes from the Lord of Eternity. The flawed and arrogant opinions that people utter now, will be swallowed up in fearful silence when that Judge appears.

3.  For every believer, our defense attorney is Jesus Christ.

And He has never lost a case placed into His care.

4.  God who is our Judge, will do more than declare each believer innocent

He will pull out the papers that also proclaim our adoption as His precious child and heir.

5.  In God’s court, perfect justice will be done!

Without exception, the guilt of every sin will be punished. Either that punishment will at that moment be placed on the sinners who still hold their guilt – – Or, God will declare that the penalty was already paid in full by Jesus on the cross

Do you know what will take place for you when God calls us before His court of justice?

You can have complete confidence that you will walk out free!

Because Jesus has paid the penalty required for sinners.

And even now, Heaven cries out,

 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)

 “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

 But if you ignore God wonderful and available grace,

 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”  (John 3:36)

 “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)


“On the Brink of Disaster”

Exodus 32

The greatest of earthly successes can quickly turn into disaster (think Titanic). God had just entered into a covenant with Israel and committed to “dwell” with them. In chapter 24 the people answered,

“All the words which the Lord has said we will do”

Moses is on top of Mt Sinai receiving the law from God; his descent should be a cause for celebration

Instead, the people put themselves at the brink of disaster (vs 1-10)

Their actions are jaw dropping! How could they?

God delivered them dramatically and provided for them emphatically

God had shown grace upon grace, culminating in his covenant with them

The people had a ‘reason’ for their actions (Moses had been gone 40 days); but they had no ‘excuse’

It was ungrateful! It was foolish!  It was just like our sin

What was behind their actions?  How do we account for this?

People were impatient and their expectations were not met

The text emphasizes the willfulness of everyone involved: the people gathered, they demanded and they gave. Aaron labored at the task

In v9 God calls them “stiff-necked”. It is the picture of a mule that refuses to be led

It’s the old story of sin: we want to shape God, rather than be shaped by him

Acts 7:41 describes these events by telling us “they were rejoicing in the works of their hands”

In other words, they we happier with the god they created, than with the God who created them

When God doesn’t fit our expectations, we take the right to chart our own course

We exchange the real and transcendent God, for a malleable god

The people cried out in v1, “let’s make a god to go before us” – as if that was in their power

What was missing in these people who had experienced God?

They acknowledged God, but they did not exalt God

They didn’t seek God, worship God, or remember his works for them (or their gratitude to him)

Yes, they had questions for God, but they also had abundant evidences of his grace

If they were without excuse, what about we who have the greater revelation and grace of Christ?

Amidst this mess, we are shown the full picture of God’s mercy (vs 11-14)

God appears to change his mind from verse 10 to verse 14

It is important to realize that we can only know about God, what he reveals to us

So God ‘debating an issue’ is a literary device in which he is able to show us the full picture of what is in his heart

This is not play acting, God’s “wrath is against all unrighteousness”

At same time God is “rich in mercy” and faithful to His covenant

What grounds does Moses use to call for God’s mercy?

It is all based on God’s character, rather than the people’s character

v11 God had already shown his mercy to this people – Moses calls for more

v12 God’s reputation before the nations is at stake

v13 God had entered a covenant with the people – Moses calls him to uphold it

Nowhere does Moses attempt to claim they deserved better

The essential truth about God’s mercy is that sufficient mediation is necessary

This is why Christ is the only acceptable sacrifice for the guilt of our sin (Acts 4:12)

God is merciful, but sin brings consequences

God did not abandoned the people, but consequences came

vs 19-20  Moses humbled the people

vs 25-28  Moses sent the Levites to use the sword against the revelers

vs 34-35  the Lord sent a plague on the people

The character of God requires consequences:

His holiness must judge sin

His love must discipline his wayward children

The very nature of sin brings consequences, because it is a turning aside from God and truth

We cannot walk against God in falsehood and not have it affect our life

Sin is the great disaster and every exercise of it is destructive (Romans 1:21)

Sin twists our thinking (makes it “futile”); and it hardens (or “darkens”) our heart

Yet, we’re usually not aware of these affects: ‘thinking we are wise, we become fools”

We see all of this in Aaron’s response to Moses (vs 22-24)

The great consequence for believers, is to settle for a lesser god

We have the glorious beauty of God, but settle for the pursuit of stuff and fame

We have the commitment of God’s covenant, but settle for the world’s promises

We have the unequaled promise of God’s kingdom, but settle for the meagerness of ours