This is a “pre communion” sermon and the question that we want to consider is “do we have a clear conscience?” Paul says that he has a clear conscience, and he says some things about why he has a clear conscience.
In the first chapter, Paul entreats the people at Corinth to agree with each other and not be divided over the different leaders in their midst. The appeal he makes is “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul also contrasts the wisdom of God with the “wisdom” of man. He talks about two wisdoms, two spirits, and two representative people.
3:18 summarizes a warning to them that they deceive not themselves by thinking that they are wiser than they are. It is important to be self-reflective and not to be self-deceived. Be careful not to overestimate your or your leader’s importance or standing or opinion.
Heading into chapter 4 now, Paul uses himself and Apollos as an example so that the people at Corinth will learn “not to go beyond what is written.” Paul begins by saying that they are elevating the stewards of God’s mysteries (the ordained) higher than they should.
Paul is saying that if the people choose him (versus other leaders), it doesn’t matter to him. It doesn’t make him a more important person if they were to elevate him above other leaders.
Paul is saying that he is not the final judge, he can have a thought about, an evaluation of himself, but he doesn’t have the final say. He couldn’t just get in his corner, and add up his positives and negatives… there is still God, above all, and overall.
Paul isn’t specifically talking about preparation for communion and examining one’s self. Paul is saying that he isn’t seeking their praise or approval.
We often have negative evaluations of ourselves as a result of someone else shaming, judging, or demeaning us. Paul tells the folks at Corinth to stop judging and choosing between their leaders. Paul also says that he wants to apply this to Apollos and himself so that they can learn “not to paint outside the lines.”
In verse 7 Paul says that the different gifts, that they have and should neither boast about themselves nor be elevated by these gifts.
Elevating people, or its opposite, shaming them is common. Not only in the world around us, but also amongst believers! These things ought not to be!
Scriptures used – 1 Corinthians 1-4