1 Corinthians 4 MSG/NIV - Online Parallel Bible

 
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1 Don't imagine us leaders to be something we aren't. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God's most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. 1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.
2 The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
3 It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don't even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
4 I'm not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn't mean much. The Master makes that judgment. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
5 So don't get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of - inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the "Well done!" of God. 5 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.
6 All I'm doing right now, friends, is showing how these things pertain to Apollos and me so that you will learn restraint and not rush into making judgments without knowing all the facts. It's important to look at things from God's point of view. I would rather not see you inflating or deflating reputations based on mere hearsay. 6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
7 For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn't everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what's the point of all this comparing and competing? 7 For 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 boast as though you did not?
8 You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. Without bringing either Apollos or me into it, you're sitting on top of the world - at least God's world - and we're right there, sitting alongside you! 8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings--and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!
9 It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We're something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
10 We're the Messiah's misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we're mostly kicked around. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
11 Much of the time we don't have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.
12 and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, "God bless you." 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
13 When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We're treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture's kitchen. And it's not getting any better. 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
14 I'm not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I'm writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. 14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.
15 There are a lot of people around who can't wait to tell you what you've done wrong, but there aren't many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God's Message to you that I became your father. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
16 I'm not, you know, asking you to do anything I'm not already doing myself. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
17 This is why I sent Timothy to you earlier. He is also my dear son, and true to the Master. He will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give all the churches on the way of Christ. 17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don't think I'll ever show up in person. 18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.
19 But I'll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we'll see if they're full of anything but hot air. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.
20 God's Way is not a matter of mere talk; it's an empowered life. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
21 So how should I prepare to come to you? As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? You decide. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?