I'm feeling kinda good today and in the mood for a blog post.
What I'd like to share is a biblical insight that has made a profound impact on me. It is the kind of insight that will—at the risk of sounding pedestrian—revolutionize your life, and the insight is this: I DON'T CARE!
That's right. I don't care what you think of me, I don't even care what I think of me. Now before you pass this off as in keeping with inane youthful rebellion, I'd like you to reckon with Paul's words first:
"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." (1 Cor. 4:3-4)
What is Paul saying? He's not recommending throwing off the "shackles" of consideration for others, neither is he advocating a reckless abandon bordering on masochism. What Paul is saying is that his identity is so bound up in Christ, so inextricably linked with his union with Him, that the only verdict on his person that matters is Christ's. And what is this verdict:
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1)
Are you beginning to taste and savor the utterly delicious freedom of this truth? It offers, not rudeness, nor unkindness, but the spiritual power and strength to enjoy all that is ours in Christ, to be defined by this, and to live our lives not in a perennial state of seeking a righteous judgment from others, ourselves, and things, but as free men. As grateful men.
Timothy Keller adds:
"Paul was a man of incredible stature. I think it would be hard to disagree with the view that he is one of the six or seven most influential leaders in the history of the human race. One of the most influential people in history. He had enormous ballast, tremendous influence, incredible confidence. He moved ahead and nothing fazed him. And yet, in 1 Timothy, he says ‘Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (1 Tim. 1:15 NKJV). Not I was chief, but I am chief. Or ‘I am the worst’. This is off our maps. We are not used to someone who has incredible confidence volunteering the opinion that they are one of the worst people. We are not used to someone who is totally honest and totally aware of all sorts of moral flaws – yet has incredible poise and confidence.
We cannot do that. Do you know why? Because we are judging ourselves. But Paul will not do that. When he says that he does not let the Corinthians judge him nor will he judge himself, he is saying that he knows about his sins but he does not connect them to himself and his identity. His sins and his identity are not connected. He refuses to play that game. He does not see a sin and let it destroy his sense of identity. He will not make a connection. Neither does he see an accomplishment and congratulate himself. He sees all kinds of sins in himself – and all kinds of accomplishments too – but he refuses to connect them with himself or his identity. So, although he knows himself to be the chief of sinners, that fact is not going to stop him from doing the things that he is called to do.
We could not be more different from Paul. If I think of myself as a bad person, I do not have any confidence. If I think of myself as a sinner, as someone who is filled with pride, someone filled with lust and anger and greed and all the things that Paul says he is filled with, I have no confidence. No, because we are judging ourselves. We set our standards and then we condemn ourselves. The ego will never be satisfied that way. Never!
Paul is saying something astounding. ‘I don’t care what you think and I don’t care what I think.’ He is bringing us into new territory that we know nothing about. His ego is not puffed up, it is filled up. He is talking about humility – although I hate using the word ‘humility’ because this is nothing like our idea of humility. Paul is saying that he has reached a place where his ego draws no more attention to itself than any other part of his body. He has reached the place where he is not thinking about himself anymore. When he does something wrong or something good, he does not connect it to himself any more." (The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness)