4:3 “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.”
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you
Paul does not say that the Corinthian opinion of him amounts to nothing. It amounts to something but it is a “very small thing” that he would be judged by them. The word “judged” means to investigate with a view to passing sentence. Paul was not responsible to the Corinthians’ sentence but to God’s sentence.
or by a human court.
The words “human court” refers to human tribunal. This refers to a day of human inquest, a human court in contrast to a divine court. Now is the time for human judgment but there will be a day when the Lord will judge. The day of human judgment is warped because of alienation from God. There is a great danger of undue influence by human judgment, of what others may think about our ministry. We weaken our ministry by undue influence of human opinion. Obviously, we want to listen to the objective criticism of others; however, we cannot be controlled by the “human court” of public opinion in ministry.
In fact, I do not even judge myself.
Paul does not judge himself. This does not mean that he does not examine himself to see whether he is personally walking with the Lord or whether his ministry is effective. The idea is that Paul does not unduly examine his own motives. Even Paul’s judgments are human. Only God has the capacity to fully examine the heart. Unhealthy subjective examination of self will cripple ministry.
A true servant of God stands at the bar of God’s judgment, not man’s judgment.
Those faithful to the Lord will not be daunted by criticism of others. We are impervious to censure of others in our service by keeping our eye on faithfulness to the Lord.
1 Sa 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The court of public opinion has a terrible control on the ministry of many people. It cripples their ministry. They water down the proclamation of God’s Word into something anemic and frail. This is the spirit of compromise. There is a place for taking opinions of others in view but if these opinions fly against the extant Word of God, there is no place for yielding to prevailing opinion. If we yield to this, our concern for reputation is more important than character.