Job 16-17 & 1 Corinthians 4

Job 16-17

    Then Job answered and said:

    “I have heard many such things;
        miserable comforters are you all.
    Shall windy words have an end?
        Or what provokes you that you answer?
    I also could speak as you do,
        if you were in my place;
    I could join words together against you
        and shake my head at you.
    I could strengthen you with my mouth,
        and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.
    “If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
        and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
    Surely now God has worn me out;
        he has made desolate all my company.
    And he has shriveled me up,
        which is a witness against me,
    and my leanness has risen up against me;
        it testifies to my face.
    He has torn me in his wrath and hated me;
        he has gnashed his teeth at me;
        my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
    Men have gaped at me with their mouth;
        they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
        they mass themselves together against me.
    God gives me up to the ungodly
        and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
    I was at ease, and he broke me apart;
        he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
    he set me up as his target;
        his archers surround me.
    He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare;
        he pours out my gall on the ground.
    He breaks me with breach upon breach;
        he runs upon me like a warrior.
    I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin
        and have laid my strength in the dust.
    My face is red with weeping,
        and on my eyelids is deep darkness,
    although there is no violence in my hands,
        and my prayer is pure.
    “O earth, cover not my blood,
        and let my cry find no resting place.
    Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
        and he who testifies for me is on high.
    My friends scorn me;
        my eye pours out tears to God,
    that he would argue the case of a man with God,
        as a son of man does with his neighbor.
    For when a few years have come
        I shall go the way from which I shall not return.

    “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct;
        the graveyard is ready for me.
    Surely there are mockers about me,
        and my eye dwells on their provocation.
    “Lay down a pledge for me with you;
        who is there who will put up security for me?
    Since you have closed their hearts to understanding,
        therefore you will not let them triumph.
    He who informs against his friends to get a share of their property—
        the eyes of his children will fail.
    “He has made me a byword of the peoples,
        and I am one before whom men spit.
    My eye has grown dim from vexation,
        and all my members are like a shadow.
    The upright are appalled at this,
        and the innocent stirs himself up against the godless.
    Yet the righteous holds to his way,
        and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger.
    But you, come on again, all of you,
        and I shall not find a wise man among you.
    My days are past; my plans are broken off,
        the desires of my heart.
    They make night into day:
        ‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’
    If I hope for Sheol as my house,
        if I make my bed in darkness,
    if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
        and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’
    where then is my hope?
        Who will see my hope?
    Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
        Shall we descend together into the dust?”

(Job 16-17 ESV)

1 Corinthians 4

    This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For 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 his commendation from God.

    I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may 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? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

    Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

    I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

(1 Corinthians 4 ESV)

1 Corinthians 4: The apostle Paul regards himself and the other apostles as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” While there were some people in Corinth critical of the apostle Paul, he makes a point to express how faithfulness to God is a more worthy pursuit than the approval of men. The moment we begin to primarily pursue the approval of others is the moment we have ceased being primarily a servant of Christ. 

The Corinthian church was a church divided because of prejudice and favoritism. Some believers boasted about being disciples of Apollos. Some boasted about being disciples of Peter. And some boasted about being disciples of Paul. There were disagreements and strife among the congregation as people became divided over who’s teaching ministry was the greatest. Paul seeks to correct such divisive behavior by pointing out that we are first servants of Christ rather than mere disciples of certain men.

Have you ever found yourself subtly passing judgment on a fellow believer because you find their church or pastor less satisfying than your own? Have you ever considered your slightly different position on the non-essential matters of the faith more praise-worthy than the positions of others? We ought to humble ourselves and remember that Christians may mistake and differ in their positions, but Christ and the Word of God are the same yesterday, today and forever. 

We have no reason to ever exalt ourselves over others. Everything that we have and everything that we are and everything that we do is a gift that we have received (not earned) on account of the grace and unconditional love of God. May we consider ourselves first and foremost servants of Christ and stewards of the gospel of God no matter what human instrument God used to transform us into such.