1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.
Believers should view leaders simply as “servants of Christ.” As such, Jesus will evaluate their work when the time comes, and the criteria he will use is simply that of faithfulness. God does not evaluate us on the basis of the different gifts or tasks he has given us. We should not boast about these differences either, as if our assignments reflected some personal superiority rather than simply a gift or calling given by God.
This is encouraging for each of us. You or I may not have a gift the worldly person views as important. But what counts with God is our faithfulness in using the gifts and abilities we do have to serve others.
Judge Nothing Until the Appointed Time
3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
Only what’s written in the Bible
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
The Privilege of Suffering: Fools for Christ, Scum of the Earth
Rather than build little empires, spiritual leaders abandon all and willingly accept suffering to better serve God and other believers.
9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
Not a Matter of Talk But Power
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
[The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. I desire to have that power live in me. It’s not that I have the power, but the power of the Holy Spirit lives in me. When it happens, we become born again Christians.]