As I read today’s readings, something stands out to me in both Nehemiah 6 and 1 Cor 4:1-5, for both Nehemiah and Paul, not only have confidence, but they have confidence in where they have put their confidence!
I love the conversational language used in Nehemiah. As he rebukes his enemy who is trying to harm him he says, “you are just making it up out of your head”, and as Shemaiah son of Delaiah “prophesies” that men are coming to kill him he says “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!”.
Such language shows the confidence Nehemiah had to stay and finish his great project, certain that there was no need to run and hide. He had confidence in in God’s purpose and protection, despite deceitful men and false prophets. He was confident in where he put his confidence.
Likewise Paul, after speaking strongly about divisions caused by factions following apostles, tells the Corinthians they ought to view the apostles “as servants of Christ“. He goes on to tell them in effect I don’t care how you judge me – I only care how Jesus will judge me. Such confidence!
Paul was living with a single minded goal – to please Christ as a faithful servant. He knew where his confidence lay, and he new it was not false, for even though he acknowledges that a clean conscience does not make him innocent, he knows that the Lord who will judge him judges the heart, and will expose the hidden motives.
Is this challenging to you?
Having spent many years in up front ministries, both teaching and worship leading, I have regularly prayed that all I do would be for His glory, not mine—indeed this is my prayer for our band each time we play. Yet there can be a danger that even such prayers stray into the hope of approval of our humility by others. Paul’s reminder to me that God “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart” helps strip this away. I want the confidence of Paul when he says “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court”, knowing that God will judge me and truly because of that, not caring how you judge me, because my aim is to please God.
Do you have confidence in where you have put your confidence? Are you content to live for the approval of Christ alone? To live, as they say, for an audience of one?
If this is your desire, may He truly grant you the desires of your heart.
but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness—Matt 6:33