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What Gives You The Right?

"Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"
I Corinthians 4:1-7 

Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship today!
We're so glad to have you here with us. 

In our ongoing study of the book of I Corinthians, we now come to the 4th chapter, I Corinthians chapter 4, and verses 1 through 7 in our continuing study of Paul's letter to the Corinthian church.

And, I must say, we have been encouraged by the overwhelming response we have received from all around the world. As I said, we are today beginning our study I Corinthians chapter 4, we'll be specifically looking at the first seven verses. 
END OF THE WORLD: THIS is how Earth and the universe will be ...
Before we begin, I'd like to first confess to you, something we don't often hear from a preacher, a teacher of the Word of God, especially in today's culture, but I'd like to make it known, that this rich passage of Scripture, was written just as much for me, as it was to all of you. And, although, Paul's letter is addressed to the Corinthian congregation, however, it is the definition of the true place of the minister of God. Therefore, it may have well been addressed to all of us here today.

In other words, it is the standard by which the minister is to minister to the people of God, and it is the position and attitude, in which the people of God are to hold him, and so it’s a very critical, very important portion of Scripture. 

And, I'd also like to confess, in preparing this message for all of you, it been rather a heart-searching experience for me, as your pastor. It has been a time of self-examination, a time of measuring myself against the Word of God, in order to see that I have fulfilled my calling, that which God has laid out as His pattern for His minister. 

I am quite aware, that in this world, there are all sorts of criteria, which have been offered as the "standard" for those of us in ministry, I'm sure most of you are familiar which those standards. They include, but certainly not limited to, the number and measure of the academic degrees held by the minister, and the size of the church and congregation. Their popularity among the members of the church, their style and format of preaching. Whether or not they are expositors, preaching all of the Word, and the order in which they deliver it. How the pastor dresses, whether or not his shoes are polished or scuffed, how he holds himself, and the Bible. And, as  I'm sure you know, I could go on and on, compiling such a worldly list of how a minister of the Word of God is ranked by today's standards. And, might I add, that all of that is offensive to God! Every last bit of it.

Therefore, I feel it necessary to point out, while your thoughts and opinions of me, and how I fair by your standards, in the worldly minister rating system, are indeed important to me, please don't misunderstand, it is the opinion of Almighty God of me, and how He sees what I am doing, that I am fulfilling my God given duties, to His pleasing and satisfaction, that are the utmost important to me.

Today's Message: What Gives You The Right?

Let's bow our heads to the Almighty and Sovereign God in prayer.

Heavenly Father, 

Thank You first of all for Your Word, it has been a humbly time for me personally, through Your Holy Spirit, I have again been blessed with the revelation and great privilege of seeing how the Spirit works, so powerfully, so beautifully. Father, I personally want to thank You for the Godly wisdom of Godly men, those appointed by You, that have gone before us in the early church and I thank You for the joy of just being able to follow their leading. Thank You for such a sweet and submissive flock of believers, those whom I faithfully and humbly serve, just as you've called me to shepherd them, yet I am so unworthy of such a great calling.

Father, I pray that as Your unfold these critically important and instructive truths for us today, that we may pause to meditate and that we all do a  bit of much needed self examination. May it all be for Your glory.
In Christs' name

Paul, as we know, has been teaching the Corinthian Christians and all of us, that there was only one true leader of the Church and that we are to all base our faith on what Jesus taught. Paul warns about building our lives out of things that did not matter, but rather on things that were precious. Paul has been talking about our spiritual lives and how we live out our faith.

Paul has been teaching the believers at Corinth, and us, that the reality is that if you are a believer, a true believer then the reality is that God lives in you. And, sadly, for many people, religion or faith is all theoretical. It is not a reality that is practiced in their own lives. Together you make up the Temple of God. You believers are the dwelling place of God.

Beloved, God lives in each individual Christian in the person of the Holy Spirit. And God lives in His church as individual Christians come together to worship Him. In other words, God dwells both in you and in the church, which is made up of others just like you.

He is not dwelling in you and in the church arbitrarily, in some abstract form, random concept or design; He is literally dwelling in you, this is a reality! Just as much as you are in reality sitting here, listening to me right now. God is in you and this place, even as I am speaking to you. God is present when you are present!

Now, allow me to just clarify, that does not mean God is only present on Sunday's. What that does mean is that when you get out of bed in the morning, God is with you. That while you are driving to work or getting ready for school, God is with you. As you are going throughout your day, God is with you.

You are with God and He is with you all day. Before Christ, God would meet with his people in the Temple, now we are his Temple. You and I are the temple of God. This is a place of worship, it is however, not the Church, you are the church. And I'd like to encourage all of you, to live each day, with the realization in mind.

This passage today, goes hand-in-hand with what Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:1: "Do not judge so that you will not be judged." As we have seen in our ongoing studies in I Corinthians that one of the serious problems in the Corinthian church concerned the former ministers. Some of the church members were esteeming one minister above the other ministers. They were judging the gifts, ministry, and effectiveness of the former ministers and it was causing the church severe problems.
Hate in the Pulpit • EBONY

So the people began to judge the ministers by their preaching style, ability, eloquence, charisma, intelligence, gifts, their call, and their success. They judged their whole ministry. This issue is a very prominent issue in churches today. I have literally heard things like: You look a lot and teach like Jesus, I think that helps people relate to your messages better.

In Verses 1 and 2, Paul says, "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy."
In other words, "Count ministers for what they are." He gives three things that should always be kept in mind about ministers:

First, ministers are ministers of Christ. They are servants. The original Greek word used literally means “under rower.” The under rower was the slave who sat below deck on a ship and pulled the large oar to move the boat along. Christ is the Master of the ship and the minister is one of the slaves of Christ. And each minister is only one of many under-rowing servants. He is called to serve one Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. No person who serves Christ, is to be elevated above other ministers or servants, in any way. No matter how much the minister has meant to a person’s life, he is only the under-rower and servant. Nothing more.

Second, Ministers are stewards of God. When Paul says “those entrusted,” a steward, a house manager, the overseer of an estate. The steward was always a slave, subject to a master but his work was not closely supervised. So he had to be trustworthy and responsible. Notice what the minister is entrusted with—the mysteries or secret things of God.

A mystery is something that is hard to understand. It’s undiscoverable by human reason but is revealed by God to the minister. It is clear to those to whom it has been revealed but alien to those who do not receive it. What are the mysteries? They are the truths of God’s Word. The minister is someone whom God has trusted to reveal His Word and is responsible enough to explain it to others.

And third, ministers are required to be faithful. This is the one essential for the minister. There really is no other requirement of him. He is not required to be eloquent, or brilliant, or intelligent. He is not required to be an administrator, or counselor, or socialize.

He is only required to be faithful in ministering the mysteries of God. HE will be held accountable and will be judged for how well he ministers the mysteries of God. So the minister has to be faithful to his call.

This is the kind of thing Paul doesn’t judge, and believers are not to judge. No man has the right to judge such things.

"For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God."

Paul says the judgment of Christ is all that matters. Anyone who knows me, has heard me say numerous times before, "I am not here to please man. I am here to please Jesus Christ and God’s calling on my life. And, if it pleases you along the way, that’s great. If it doesn't, take it up with God." I don't say that to be rude, or inconsiderate, however, I want you understand what it means for God to place a call on your life, to surrender yourself to His ministry. That must be pleasing to Him, regardless who it displeases.

The Lord alone justifies a minister and his/her ministry. That is what Paul is saying. And, he knows of no place where he is coming up short in his ministry. To his knowledge, he is faithful in the ministry and pleasing to the Lord. Christ judges him and Christ alone will convict him if he is wrong.
Judge not? Or, not to declare God's judgments? | Trumpet Call
So Paul tells the Corinthian church that only Christ can judge a man and the faithfulness of his life and ministry. So believers are to judge nothing. No believer can know the hidden things of darkness within a man. Only Jesus Christ can bring the secret, hidden things to light.
No man knows the real motives within a man. Only Christ can reveal the motives and counsels of the human heart.

So, there is to be no judgment of ministers or of anyone else until the Lord returns. He and He alone has the right and is capable of judging ministers and believers. No matter how successful men may judge one another to be—no matter how much praise men may heap on one another—no person will have the praise of God until Christ returns and judges the secret things of a man’s heart and life. This is the reason men are not to judge the ministers and servants of God.

"But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself." Paul is saying that the judgment or approval of ministers by men really doesn’t matter very much. When men criticize them and voice their disapproval, it may hurt and pain the heart, but it doesn’t matter at all in the judgment of God. Man’s judgment of God’s minister has no bearing whatsoever upon what God will do through the minister.

The congregation or some clique in the church may cut the minister to shreds and they may break his heart, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the judgment of the minister’s faithfulness. Men may put the minister on trial behind his back but none of that matters to God, not one single critical or negative thought!

Paul says he doesn’t even judge himself. A person who judges his own work will begin to think either too highly or too lowly of himself. Let me be clear, Paul is not talking about a minister critiquing his ministry, for the purpose of strengthening it. He is simply talking about passing judgment upon himself in comparison to other ministers.

For example, is his ministry as good as someone else’s?
Is it as fruitful as someone else's?
Are his motives as pure as they should be in the work which he does?
Is Christ as pleased with his ministry as He is with the ministry of others?

Beloved, true Christian servanthood is expressed in obedience, through sacrificial and exemplary living. And, I believe that if the church fully understood the true nature of Christian leadership, they would have a greater appreciation of these teachers, be even more willing to help out in various areas of ministry, and follow their example.
10 Reasons to Stop Judging People | Psychology Today
Let's face it, we live in a society that loves to judge others. Most generally, without having the full information. God, however, see everything, knows everything. So Paul's point is clear!

What gives you the right to feel yo have received more than others because you sat under some minister?
What makes you think you are more spiritual than other believers?
Who is it that has made you spiritual?
What do you have that you did not receive?
What is your spiritual gift? Did you create it or was the gift given to by God?
If you are spiritually mature, did you earn the maturity, or did God by His grace grow you?
How did you become a part of God’s family—by your own efforts or by God’s grace?
What do you have that you didn’t receive? Life—a body—a mind—a spirit—the ability to think and work and play and live—to breath?
Did you receive it all as a gift from God? If you received it all, then why are you boasting?

Paul was driving home a crucial point, they had no right to play God and rank, and criticize, and judge the ministers.

The "secret things of God" are the truths of the Christian faith, particularly as they relate to Jesus Christ and the way of salvation. The Christian leader has a place of humility, who has been "entrusted" with the great responsibility of teaching Christ and the way of salvation.

The most important quality of a steward is that he manages his Master’s affairs, so that the desires of his Lord materialize. He must be faithful to that one purpose.

So, what mattered most to Paul was God’s evaluation of his stewardship, not their evaluation or even his own. Paul was open to criticism and being taught by others, but he didn’t live to please them. He lived to please God. This is, as it should be. We are all here to serve and please God, not man.

In speaking from my own experiences, in other words, sometimes when a man becomes too focused on filling the needs of the people, he may violate that which God wants. He may compromise true spiritual principles for the ends that he wants. However, I believe that if I am always serving God first, then I will best serve His people. For in His will, I am the most benefit to Him and His people.

As human beings, we love to be respected and to be elevated. We like to showcase our skills, our talents, wealth, affluence, and intellect. We boast of these qualities to climb up the social ladder of our society. As such, we tend to think too highly of ourselves and if great care is not taken, false pride can set in.

When a servant of God, focuses on "winning people over," they start violating the thing that is most important, please God.

It's all about pleasing God, through Jesus Christ.
And one day, I'll stand before Him to answer all that I've done in service to Him. 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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