“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.”
(1 Corinthians 4:3)
This is a powerful little verse in 1 Corinthians 4 that really goes on in the verses after this to elaborate on judgment and how to think about judgment in the future, particularly before God, but I love the way Paul puts this.
We don’t live for the approval of others or for the approval of self. We live for the approval of our Judge, His name is Jesus.
He just says, listen, I’m not going to be judged by you or any human court. This is so good to know, isn’t it? I think about times where in my own life I have been criticized, even for something that I believe was right and I’ve been criticized for it. It’s been a good reminder in that moment that my critics are not my judge, that no other human is my judge. No human court is going to judge me. God is going to judge me.
Obviously there is reason for trembling at that thought, apart from Jesus. In Jesus, we have a reason to be very glad that God is our judge and I love what Paul goes on to say. He says, “In fact, I did not even judge myself.” How huge is that? Going back to thinking about when I have received criticism, I start justifying myself and start trying to defend myself even if not publicly, like internally, just in my own thoughts, just saying why I’m right and why my critics are wrong or this or that.
But that’s where I need to remember, I’m not my judge either. So just because I justify myself or I convince myself that what I’ve done is right. That’s not what matters either. That’s where the world would say, okay, just self-esteem. As long as you are okay with what you did, as long as you approve of what you did and you feel good about what you did. Paul says, no, I don’t even judge myself because on the day of judgment it’s not going to be me who’s judging me.
I look to Jesus as my judge and so we don’t look to others, we don’t look to ourselves. Now regardless of whether or not we’re being criticized, I hope this is an encouragement to you and really a challenge to us all that we don’t live for other’s approval. We don’t live even for our own approval. We live for the approval of one, our judge and his name is Jesus.
So we pray, help us God to keep our eyes fixed on you. To have the right perspective. Help us not to get caught up in, whether it’s the criticism of others or desiring a claim or applause from others, or even just thinking about being consumed with what others think or thinking about being consumed with what we think. Help us to be consumed with, to think all the time about what you think.
You are our judge. No human court, not even ourselves. So we pray God, help us to live with a single minded focus on Jesus as our judge. Live to live, to please you alone. May it be so today. Help us to live, to please you alone. Above all. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.