1 COR. iv. 3. “With me it is
a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s
ST. PAUL was far from being indifferent as to men’s
thoughts about his apostolical credentials, since the ques-
tion of their genuineness was a matter of high public in-
terest affecting the spiritual condition of all those to whom
he ministered. As to what men thought of his personal
character he professes entire indifference.
I. The judgment of our fellow-creatures upon our acts
and characters is inevitable. How is a Christian to bear
himself with reference to these judgments? Here St.
Paul speaks: “It is a very small thing that I should be
judged of you.” He knew that human opinion has a work
to do in God’s government of the world.
1. It acts as a policeman in the world of thought and
conduct, keeping outward order.
2. Public opinion does not err when it pronounces upon
the personal acts of an individual. David’s sin would be
no less condemned by man’s natural conscience than it is
in David’s own language of inspired penitence.
3. Public opinion ventures to pronounce judgment upon
character. Man’s judgment of character can be only cer-
tain in rare cases, and seldom or never during the judged
II. The uncertainty of man’s judgment, and its liability
to be reversed by a higher judgment hereafter.
This is what St. Paul felt, and considered the Corinthian
judgment a very small thing—
1. Because they had not known him long.
2. Because their estimate was strangely biassed.
3. Because they had no real means of investigating the
point in question, which was one belonging to the inner
region of motive.
4. The knowledge of a higher judgment relieved him
from all anxiety about the Corinth opinion.
III. Two kinds of people may use this language: a
very bad man, who has steeled himself against all that is
good in public opinion, and burnt out the sensitive nerve
of his conscience; and a saint, like Paul, may use this
language, for he is hidden privily in God’s own presence
from the strife of tongues. “Thou shalt answer for me, O
Lord, my God.” Most of us are between the two. We
cannot sincerely profess wholly to say with St. Paul, “It is
a very small thing what people say of me.” We care a
great deal what they say. But the language of every
Christian, who lives in the thought of the day of judgment,
and is preparing, through Christ’s grace and mercy, to
meet it, becomes increasingly more like this of St. Paul.
In the world of moral estimates, as in the natural heavens,
the stars vanish from sight at the sun’s rising. The pardon
and approving verdict of the eternal Judge is the one
thing worth living for, and that verdict is best secured if
we turn a deaf ear to the voices of men, and unite our-
selves to Him who, in life and in death, is our wisdom and
righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.