THE CHRISTIAN MANDATE AND WALK WITH CHRIST
Paul thought of himself, first of all, as a “bond servant of Christ”—Jesus Christ, not men, was his Lord. In everything he was subordinate and subject to Christ, and that set the parameters of his obedience. Paul understood that God did not call him to be creative but obedient, not innovative but faithful. For Paul, success in ministry depended upon pleasing Christ. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.
Paul also understood that his work in service to Christ was that of a steward of divine mysteries. A mystery in the New Testament is not something mysterious or mystical; it’s a truth that was previously hidden but is now widely known by divine revelation and apostolic proclamation. Paul and the other apostles and prophets of the early church openly declared the mysteries that the Holy Spirit later canonized in the New Testament. Like household stewards or managers, they administered freely the whole counsel of God Acts 20:27.
By far the most important quality of a good steward is faithfulness, trustworthiness.
God supplies His Word, His Spirit, His gifts, and His power, and He calls His elect to administer those resources faithfully. The work is demanding but is basically simple: Faithfully take God’s Word to God’s people so they can feed on it. “Feed my Sheep”….Jhn 21;15-17 That doesn’t require brilliance or cleverness or creativeness or popularity. It requires trustworthiness, true obedience and that’s the standard by which every mature, true child of God will be measured. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Mat 7:20.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Mat 7:21.
Since God is the Judge of internal and external fidelity to our task, it should be a very small thing to any of us when others praise or criticize us, or our spiritual life. We can benefit greatly from the counsel of a wise friend, and sometimes even learn from the observations and criticisms of unbelievers. But no human being is qualified to determine the legitimacy, quality, or faithfulness of our work for the Lord.
A caring child of Christ cannot and should not be insensitive to the feelings, needs, and opinions of other true believers. But no believer can remain faithful to his calling if he lets other brothers or any individual human being, decide how true his motives are or whether he is working within the Lord’s will. Because human knowledge and understanding of the facts are imperfect, human criticisms and compliments are imperfect. In humility and love, God’s elect must not allow themselves to care about other people’s evaluations of their faithfulness.
All of us are naturally inclined to build ourselves up in our own minds. We all look into rose-colored mirrors. Some people seem to put themselves down, especially in front of others, but it’s only a veiled appeal for recognition and flattery. The mature child of God doesn’t trust his own judgment any more than he trusts the judgment of others.
The only evaluation that mattered to Paul was the Lord’s—that’s how it is for every true servant of Christ. God has planned a day when He will “both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts.”
Those two phrases refer to the things only God can see, the things hidden from the knowledge of other men. As the only omniscient and impartial Judge, only God can render a righteous verdict.
I think one of the marvelous experiences true believers will share on that day will be to recognize how many dear saints, completely unknown to the world and hardly known to fellow believers, will receive reward after reward after reward from the Lord’s hands—their unseen works were gold, silver, and precious stones. Their hearts will have been pure, their works will have been precious, and their rewards will be great.
Because God will reward according to the motives of men’s hearts, our single purpose in life should all be “to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. Manifesting itself in a few here quoted, among many verses : “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” I Jo 2:3.
“So when they had eaten breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, ‘Yes Lord; You know that I love You.’ He saith to him, Feed my lambs.” Jhn 21:15
“…He saith to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, do you love Me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; You know that I love You. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” Jhn 21:16.
“He saith to him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” Jhn 21:17
“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door to the sheep.” Jhn 10:7.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” Jhn 10:27-28.
Three times our Lord emphasized the importance of this mandate.
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”1 Jo 3:7.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Heb 10:25.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 Jo 1:3.
“Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.” 2 Cr 5:20.
[Emphasis added]… “as though God did beseech [you] by us”: