1 Corinthians 4:1-7
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.
Then each one will receive commendation from God. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?
In today’s scripture passage from I Corinthians, Paul is urging on the church in Corinth a posture of humility as they have been boasting about their spiritual prowess and have judged one another unfairly.
In the summer of 2000, Donald Coggin, who was at one time the Archbishop of Canterbury, passed away. When I read about it in the newspaper, it made me remember the time when I met the archbishop. It was early in my ministry. I was just a few years out of school and I was going to attend a series of lectures at Virginia Seminary that were being delivered by Donald Coggin. Anyway, throughout the day everyone was making a big fuss over the archbishop. Some called him “Lord Coggin” which was appropriate because he was a member of the House of Lords of England. Some called him “Your Grace” which is also an appropriate honorific for an archbishop. Some got really carried away and addressed him as “Most Reverend and Right Honorable Sir,” all of which he was most deserving, but I could see that it was not sitting well with him. He was embarrassed by all the pompous flattery. Finally, he addressed the group and said, “Listen, there is but one title to which we should all aspire, to be the servant of Christ. That is all we need.” All of the pomposity faded away.
Holy God, you know our need for flattery and vainglory. We ask you to help us lay aside all pretense, pomposity and self-aggrandizement that we may become more and more your servants in the world with a willingness to give joyfully of ourselves in any situation to which you call us knowing that you have bestowed on us better things than we could ever ask or imagine through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.