At the end of the day, the Lord evaluates and determines our faithfulness.
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord” (I Corinthians 4:2-4).
This truth should both encourage and challenge us. We can be sure of a perfectly assessed appraisal of our reception, assimilation and application of God’s grace and truth. He sees us both within and without, including our attitudes and actions. This cannot be said of people, who may misunderstand the whys and wherefores of our lives, and thus criticize us when we are worthy of affirmation, or perhaps worse, affirm us when we are worthy of criticism. We can be sure of no such misguided judgment by the God of whom Solomon declared, “The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings” (Proverbs 5:21).
No genuine act of faith and obedience as enabled by the Holy Spirit will be overlooked, regardless of how small and seemingly insignificant. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul writes of the judgment seat of Christ, whereupon the works of believers will be evaluated, that “every man shall have praise of God” (I Corinthians 4:5). This does not mean that every Christian will be commended for a life of faithfulness at the judgment seat. “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:15). It does mean, however, that our Heavenly Father will find something of His Son to affirm in each of His Christ-redeemed, inhabited and enabled people.
On a more solemn note, no insincerity or lack of genuineness will pass the test of God’s purifying fire. We may fool people. We cannot fool God, either in this life, or at the judgment of our works to come. We thus do well to devote ourselves to honesty with our Lord and with ourselves, seeking His ongoing motivation and enabling to “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (I John 1:7). Only the Holy Spirit can purify both our intentions and our actions, and we can be sure that this comprises a primary aspect of His working in our hearts.
Finally, Paul did not completely discount the opinions of ourselves, as held by fellow Christians. “It is a very small thing that I should be judged of you.” We have a place of discernment in each others’ lives, and God does use us to help one another along the path of righteousness. We should consider it a “very small” place, however, and one exercised with great caution, and even more, great humility.
The lives we lived as believers subsequent to our salvation will be judged by One whose perfect Eyes shine forth from a perfect Heart. Let us rejoice with great joy that we will be evaluated in perfect fairness. And, let us consider with great solemnity that we will be evaluated with that same perfect fairness.
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” (I Corinthians 4:5)