As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. (NLT)
There is a concept used in counselling which features the question, Who is in your grandstand? The point being that as we live our lives we may be consciously or subconsciously trying to please those who are spectators. Could be our parents, our siblings, our church leaders. Our lives are shaped by what we perceive others are thinking about us.
Paul makes it clear to his rather judgemental readers that what they think of him does not govern him. He even goes on to say that what he thinks of himself is no sure guide to how he is living his life. Others’ opinions of us will vary because we can’t please all the people all the time. And we may be too hard on ourselves or too soft on ourselves to offer a fair assessment of how we are doing.
Paul concludes that it is what God thinks of us that matters. We can’t help having opinions of others or ourselves, but these are necessarily provisional. God only knows what is going on inside us and inside others. He is the only one ‘in the grandstand’ that ultimately matters.
This may disturb us because God is utterly holy and can puncture pretence very easily. Here we need to remember that this God who judges us is the God who acts to save us. My judge is also my saviour.