“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.”
(1 Corinthians 4:5)
Oh, there’s so much in this verse, as we continue to thinking about judgment here in the beginning of First Corinthians chapter four.
One, when Paul writes, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes.” It’s just a reminder to us that we see all throughout scripture, that we never need to forget, that justice is only rightly seen in the long term, over time. Not in the short, in the specific time. There are all kinds of examples where you might look at a situation and say, “Where’s the justice in that?” Or maybe even to think justice doesn’t prevail.
Let’s ask God to purify the purposes of our hearts. Make us pure and holy in our hearts and desires that You might be glorified.
But in the large arc of the universe, justice prevails. We know where the whole story is headed in the end, so we trust God’s timing as the just one. But then, there’s another part of this first that I want to kind of hone in on. When Paul says, “Before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness, and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”
So judgment does not just involve actions, things we do. But purposes, ambitions, what’s in the heart, things we desire. And that reality is convicting to the core. Because I can think about all kinds of things I could do that would be, at least look on the outside look good, and right, and even God-honoring. But I can have sinful purposes in my heart amidst good actions and deeds.
Just take a simple example, I could preach on a Sunday God’s word in a way that draws people to Christ, or builds up people in their faith and glorifies God. But in my heart, I can do that work with a desire for man’s applause, with a desire that people would think well about me, with a concern from my reputation. All kinds of sinful desires, sinful purposes, selfish purposes, can be in my heart in the most holy of acts.
And that’s just one example. All across our lives … The purposes of our heart matter. I guess that’s the point. First Corinthians chapter four, verse five, the purposes of our hearts matter. And so let’s ask God to purify the purposes of our hearts.
God, we know that we will one day stand before you as judge. We know that we will give an account for our works. We praise you that in the gospel, in Christ through faith in Jesus, we have forgiveness of our sins. We have eternal life with you. Thank you God, that we don’t have to totally be afraid of this day of judgment coming. We praise you that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. At the same time, oh God, we want to be found faithful in that day, we want our works to stand the test of fire, and First Corinthians three kind of way.
And we want, on the day when the purposes of our heart are disclosed, God we pray for purity in those purposes. For humility. For holiness in the purposes of our heart. Not just what we say or do, but why we say or do it. What’s driving us, what’s going on internally amidst these external actions?
God, please, please, please, make us pure and Holy in our hearts, in our purposes, in our thoughts, in our desires. That you might be maximally glorified in our commendation on that day. God please, transform the purposes of our heart to be totally pleasing to you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.