The measure of the leader is based on God’s assessment of the heart and the hidden. This is concerning because we follow what we see on stage or online or in public. And if we follow leaders who aren’t followers of Christ, we follow them away from Christ…
21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 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.
When Paul writes to the Corinthian church, one of the things he deals with is the misguided allegiances to specific leaders in the growing church. In fact, he nails them with, “No more boasting about human leaders!” Don’t say you’re of this leader or that leader. You are of Christ and Christ is of God.
This is difficult for us to keep straight. Part of human nature and modern society is to revere leaders, icons, and the famous. We get sucked in. We want to be like them. We follow them. If they aren’t followers of Christ, we then follow them away from Christ.
That’s what a Christ-following leader needs to do: help followers move toward Christ. You a leader? Keep that in mind. And watch out. People will try to turn you into Paul or Apollos or Cephas. Don’t believe your own press. Ignore that hype. Rather, point people on to Christ.
As Paul digs into this, he boils the identity of Apostles (the ‘sent ones’ of God who build the church) down to being servants of Christ. Apostles are servants of Christ and those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Then Paul shines the light back into the lives of those leader-stewards.
“Those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” The judge of this faithfulness is not the follower of the leader or even any human court or opinion. No, rather, the judge is the Lord himself. Paul’s conscience, he says, is clear, yet he recognizes that his conscience doesn’t matter. That’s concerning.
We typically think if our consciences are clear, we are good to go. If we can sleep at night and look ourselves in the mirror we are innocent. Or maybe not guilty. Somewhere in between? Apparently, our consciences can’t be trusted. Or at least they are not the final authority.
The Lord is our authority who will bright to light what is hidden in darkness and expose our motives. So, leader, what are your motives? What do you have hidden in the dark? The measure of the leader is based on God’s assessment of the heart and the hidden.
Which brings me back to the allegiance shown to leaders. We follow people based on our human perceptions of their leadership in the foreground without clear visibility into the background. The heart and the hidden are in God’s sight. So be careful. Follow Christ, and follow those who point to Christ.