This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1
Paul described himself as a spectacle to the world, subject to public ridicule, a humiliation, hungry, homeless, humbly dressed, laboring with his own hands, defamed, despised, accused, persecuted. The Corinthians certainly didn’t look up to or aspire to be Paul. They were not only prideful of their spirituality, but they were also embarrassed by Paul’s weak and humble state.
Paul admonishes this thinking. Everything good we have and do is from God alone. Judgment and reward are from God alone. And God sees the heart…what is hidden from man.
It isn’t smooth words, appearance, huge followings, entertainment factor, or marketing skills that count for the kingdom. It is God alone. Faithfulness to His Word. Everything we need to know is contained in the Scriptures. Paul reminds us to not go beyond what is written. How often do we see this to fit in, make the Word more culturally appealing, or try to increase following counts? But God’s word is powerful. It leads to our growth. It is meant to be read and studied and discussed. And, it needs no adding to or subtracting from.
Are we embarrassed to be or follow one who doesn’t have a polished image with worldly success and power? Would we look down at one such as Paul – tattered clothes, drifter, hungry, working with his hands and ridiculed – even though they are anointed by God to carry His message?
When we forget to look to God’s Word and instead look inward or use the world as our standard of assessment, we take steps backward on the goal of conforming to Jesus. The path we are on shifts in a wrong direction. The goal post gets moved. Being held in high honor and revered by man is not the end game. Adding to or subtracting from God’s Word is not our wheelhouse or authority. It only intensifies pride – the thing that keeps us and others from a deeper dependence on Jesus.
Question: Do you sometimes fall into the trap of looking at outward appearance as a sign of significance?