Here is how you should think of us. We serve Christ. We are trusted with God's secret truth.
Those who have been given a trust must prove that they are faithful.
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court. I don't even judge myself.
I don't feel I have done anything wrong. But that doesn't mean I'm not guilty. The Lord judges me.
So don't judge anything before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord returns. He will bring to light what is hidden in the dark. He will show the real reasons why people do what they do. At that time each person will receive praise from God.
Brothers and sisters, I have used myself and Apollos as examples to help you. You can learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Don't go beyond what is written." Then you won't be proud that you follow one person instead of another.
Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you brag as though you did not?
You already have everything you want, don't you? Have you already become rich? Have you begun to rule as kings? And did you do that without us? I wish that you really had begun to rule. Then we could rule with you!
It seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of a parade. We are like men sentenced to die in front of a crowd. We have been made a show for the whole creation to see. Angels and people are staring at us.
We are fools for Christ. But you are so wise in Christ! We are weak. But you are so strong! You are honored. But we are looked down on!
Up to this very hour we are hungry and thirsty. We are dressed in rags. We are being treated badly. We have no homes.
We work hard with our own hands. When others call down a curse on us, we bless them. When we are attacked, we put up with it.
When others say bad things about us, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the world's garbage. We are everybody's trash.
I am not writing this to shame you. You are my dear children, and I want to warn you.
You may have 10,000 believers in Christ watching over you. But you don't have many fathers. I became your father by serving Christ Jesus and telling you the good news.
So I'm asking you to follow my example.
That's the reason I'm sending Timothy to you. He is like a son to me, and I love him. He is faithful in serving the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in serving Christ Jesus. And that agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
Some of you have become proud. You act as if I weren't coming to you.
But I will come very soon, if that's what the Lord wants. Then I will find out how those proud people are talking. I will also find out what power they have.
The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk. It is a matter of power.
Which do you want? Should I come to you with a whip? Or should I come in love and with a gentle spirit?