1This is what people should think about us: We are servants of Christ. We are the people that God has trusted with his secret truths. 2A person that is trusted with something must show that he is worthy of that trust. 3I don’t care if I am judged by you. And I don’t care if I am judged by any human court. I don’t even judge myself. 4I don’t know of any wrong that I have done. But that does not make me innocent ˻(without guilt)˼. The Lord is the One who judges me. 5So don’t judge before the right time; wait until the Lord comes. He will shine light on the things that are hidden in darkness. He will make known the secret purposes of people’s hearts. Then God will give every person the praise he should get. 6Brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself as examples for you in these things. I did this so that you could learn from us the meaning of the words, “Follow only what the Scriptures say.” Then you will not be proud of one man and hate another. 7Who says that you are better than other people? Everything you have was given to you. So, if everything you have was given to you, then why do you boast like you got those things by your own power? 8˻You think˼ you have everything you need. ˻You think˼ you are rich. ˻You think˼ you have become kings without us. I wish you really were kings! Then we could be kings together with you. 9But it seems to me that God has given me and the other apostles the last place. We are like men condemned to die ˻with all the people watching˼. We are like a show for the whole world to see—angels and people. 10We are fools for Christ. But ˻you think˼ you are very wise in Christ. We are weak, but ˻you think˼ you are strong. People give you honor, but they don’t honor us. 11Even now we still don’t have ˻enough˼ to eat or drink, and we don’t have ˻enough˼ clothes. We often get beatings. We have no homes. 12We work hard with our own hands ˻to feed ourselves˼. People curse us, but we speak a blessing for them. People persecute us, and we accept it. 13People say bad things about us, but we say good things to them. At this time people still treat us like we are the world’s garbage—the trash of the earth. 14I am not trying to make you feel ashamed. But I am writing these things to give you a warning like you were my own dear children. 15You may have 10,000 teachers in Christ, but you don’t have many fathers. Through the Good News I became your father in Christ Jesus. 16So I beg you to please be like me. 17That is why I am sending Timothy to you. He is my son in the Lord. I love Timothy, and he is faithful. He will help you remember the way I live in Christ Jesus. That way of life is what I teach in all the churches everywhere. 18Some of you have become boasters. You boast, thinking that I will not come to you again. 19But I will come to you very soon. I will come, if the Lord wants me to. Then I will see what these boasters can do, not what they can say. 20I will want to see this because the kingdom of God is not talk but power. 21Which do you want: that I come to you with punishment, or that I come with love and gentleness?
1 Corinthians 4