1 Corinthians 4:3 (KJV 1900)
3 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. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
Since we do not have the letter the Corinthians sent to Paul, we have to do a little surmising about some of the accusations or, as we read in 1:11, the contentions within the church. It appears that church members, divided among which leader is the best, accused Paul of not being a faithful steward.
So as Paul mentions faithful stewards in 4:2, he now addresses the judging of the Corinthian church members toward him. To Paul, it is a very small thing that they are judging him. Even man’s judgment (literally, court, as in man’s court, or a secular court) is of very little account. Paul did not base his faithfulness as a steward on what men thought of him. His goal was to always be faithful to God first and to only boast in the Lord.
I do not even judge myself. I don’t think Paul is saying he shouldn’t examine himself (See 1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5). We should self-examine to make sure we line up with Scripture. His point is, no matter what he thinks of himself, ultimately the Lord judges and that is all that matters–so, as a good steward, he looks to God’s word and lets the word of God examine him whether or not he is faithful.
A few days ago someone wrote to me and criticized my use of a certain word in an article I wrote for our Cambodia ministry. This well-intentioned person thought the term was derogatory and that since, as he quoted, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” I should address everyone as equals. I agree. But my response to the man was, “Look at our ministry and the redemption we present through the Lord Jesus Christ and him only. I think it speaks for itself.” In other words, don’t just look at one word, let the whole body of what I have written be the judge of how I treat people.
The apostle Paul is saying I’ll look at what is written in Scripture and let it be my judge.
For I know of nothing against myself. This is a bit difficult, but I think what Paul is saying is no matter what I think, I am not declared righteous by my own opinion. Therefore, he who judges me is the Lord.