1 Corinthians 4: Servants of God
April 5, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
What is the nature of true apostleship? Or to put it more broadly, what marks out or characterizes godly Christian leadership? Paul is defending himself to the Corinthians who were doubting his credentials. And in that defense, he establishes several important principles.
First, Christian leaders are nothing but servants. And that is how people ought to regard Christian leaders: servants. We are not to lord it over those entrusted to our care. We are to serve. Of course, elsewhere the Bible tells us to honor and respect our leaders to make their life easier rather than harder. Regarding Christian leaders as servants does not mean treating them like dirt! It means that essential to the identity of true Christian leadership is that it is for the benefit of the ones who are being led.
Second, Christian leaders are therefore to aim to be faithful. The task of a Christian leader is to be faithful to the charge that has been entrusted to them by God. This gives great perspective and great freedom. Success and fame are not the goal of Christian leadership; faithfulness is the goal. But it also gives great freedom: if the goal is faithfulness to God, then those who lead are not bound by the judgment of people around them. They can serve with freedom, for it is God that they serve. This means then that those who are being led are not to judge Christian leaders, but rather to let God be the judge—nor attempt to discern motives, but let God bring all to light at the right time.
Third, Christian leaders may expect frequent misunderstanding and sacrifice. This was especially true of the apostles: “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.” But one of the marks of any kind of authentic discipleship, and especially authentic Christian leadership, is the willingness to live a life of sacrifice for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of God’s people.
Fourth, though, none of this is to leave us with the impression that Christian leaders are wimpy pushovers. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Through prayer, the word of God, character, spiritual strength and leadership gifts, Christian leaders have the spiritual authority to lead—albeit always with grace, humility, tenderness, and as servants of God.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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