Memorial Day is a time for honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. These men and women were faithful to the end. In light of what we learned in 1 Corinthians 3 (that every believer will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ) and what we observe through Memorial Day, we too should desire to be found faithful to the end. In 1 Corinthians 4, we see that we should be faithful as:
Jesus taught His followers to be humble servants and faithful stewards (v. 1-2). Everyone wants to be a star, and no one wants to be a servant. Servants do not do what they want to do. They do not march to their own drumbeat. Their theme song is not “I Did It My Way.” As servants of Jesus Christ we do not live our lives our way, but God’s way! The word steward means one who manages everything for his master. When the master returns, the steward will give an account. The steward is held responsible. Our gifts, talents, abilities, real estate, opportunities, and potential do not belong to us, but to Jesus. You are a steward of your life, time, money, influence, kids, etc. In verses 3-5 we are reminded that it’s not our place to judge others. The one who judges is the Lord. Only God knows what is in a person’s heart and He is the only one who has the right to judge. Likewise, we shouldn’t live our lives for the opinion of others. Ultimately, there is only one opinion that matters. It is not the court of public opinion, or even our own personal opinion, but we answer to God. Paul says we shouldn’t think “beyond what is written” (v. 6). The bible is our final authority. Stewardship is about responsibility and requirements. God’s word gives us some requirements – faith, baptism, attending church, giving, witnessing, prayer, bible reading, daily devotions. God requires faithfulness. Whatever your stage of life, wherever you serve, keep the future, final judgement in mind. We want to hear Jesus say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
In verse 9, Paul uses the word “spectacle.” No matter the translation you read, it’s the same word. We are fools for Christ (v. 10). This world will look at us as foolish. Rome had amphitheaters where they would bring Jews, Christians, and prisoners to fight wild animals. They had dirt floors to soak up the blood. The world would watch. We must be willing to suffer for Christ. Pastor Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey for two years for his faith, said we in America are not prepared. We don’t have the mindset. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though somestrange thinghappened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” The disciples were martyred as spectacles before a hostile world. They were beheaded, crucified upside down, stabbed, stoned, boiled in hot oil. How did Paul respond to persecution? With endurance and grace (v. 12-13). Life is hard. The Christian life is not easy, but it is worth it. God has not called us to be popular, but to be faithful.
Paul says he teaches everywhere he goes (v. 17). We too are teaching everywhere. Not only are we teaching, but leaders are lifelong learners. The Bible says, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). No one has arrived. If we are not going to go “beyond what is written”(v. 6), we have to know what is written! Paul could only say, “Follow me,” because he was following close to God, spending time in the word and time in prayer. He was a student as well as a teacher. Timothy had traveled with Paul on his second missionary journey. In verse 17, we read that Paul had sent Timothy to them to teach them. We need the help of others to get the job done. The teachers who meant the most to us were like a loving parent. They warned us, loved us, poured into us, set an example for us, taught us. They made practical application and they disciplined us. We wanted to imitate them! Paul encouraged the Corinthians to imitate him (v. 16). Are we being faithful stewards, spectacles, and students? Be faithful and finish well!