“If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31–32). So, how are we to judge ourselves, as Paul says to do?
Here is the criterion by which I constantly judge myself: I ask, “Have I in any way hindered the gospel of Christ?” We know that the world cannot hinder the gospel, but the fact is, we who preach it can. Paul judged himself on this matter, writing, “[I] suffer all things, lest [I] should hinder the gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12).
The apostle is telling us, in essence, “I have to be careful about how I present the gospel. If I’m materialistically minded, or if I harbor covetousness or lust, I cannot possibly represent Christ accurately. It would cause a hindrance to the gospel I present. No, the way I live has to be a part of the gospel I preach.”
Consider the Corinthians in Paul’s time. They were bringing fancy foods to the feast table, while the poor among them didn’t have any food at all. Paul told them, in so many words, “You’re not really concerned about the needs of Christ’s Body if your eye is fixed only on how to better your own life. You simply can’t be focused on God’s concerns if you don’t care whether your brother has enough money for his next meal.”
Any works or ministry that’s done with such a mind-set won’t endure the Lord’s holy fire. Large numbers, successful methods, and monumental achievements won’t mean anything in that hour because God judges the motives of the heart. The question we have to ask ourselves today is, “Am I doing this for recognition? To be somebody? To secure my own future, with no regard for my brothers or sisters in need?”
Make no mistake: The gospel of Jesus Christ goes forth unhindered, mighty and unstoppable. But this happens only when it is preached and taught in its fullness. It has to be delivered in the context of “the whole counsel of God.” As Paul says, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, italics mine).