Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV)

The “appointed time” in this verse is the judgment when Jesus will return to earth. We know this because 1 Cor 4:5 refers to the time when:

  1. “each one will receive his commendation from God”. 1 Peter 5:4 & 2 Cor 5:10 indicate that this happens at the judgment.
  2. “things now hidden in darkness” will be brought to light and “the purposes of the heart” will be revealed. Rom 2:15-16 tell us that the secrets of men will be judged by Jesus. The context of Romans 2 is the day of judgment at the return of Jesus.

Although the judgment seat of Christ is the time period being referred to, it is clear that God is involved with us now as we experience trials and tribulations. For example, Hebrews 12:5-11 shows how God treats us like sons and disciplines us to make us more like him.

We do not know the motives of men’s hearts and therefore should not judge other people’s motives.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
(James 4:11-12)

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