4 This is what people should think about us: We are servants of Christ. We are the ones God has trusted with his secret truths. 2 A person who is trusted with something must show that he is worthy of that trust. 3 I do not care if I am judged by you or if I am judged by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I know of no wrong that I have done. But this does not make me innocent. The Lord is the One who judges me. 5 So do not judge before the right time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light things that are now hidden in darkness. He will make known the secret purposes of people’s hearts. Then God will give everyone the praise he should get.
6 Brothers, I have used Apollos and myself as examples. I did this so that you could learn from us the meaning of the words, “Follow only what is written in the Scriptures.” Then you will not be proud of one man and hate another. 7 Who says that you are better than others? Everything you have was given to you. And if this is so, why do you brag as if you got these 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. 9 But it seems to me that God has given me and the other apostles the last place. We are like men sentenced to die. We are like a show for the whole world to see—angels and people. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake. But you think you are very wise in Christ. We are weak, but you think you are strong. You receive honor, but we are hated. 11 Even now we still do not have enough to eat or drink or enough clothes. We are often beaten. We have no homes. 12 We work hard with our own hands for our food. People curse us, but we bless them. They hurt us, and we accept it. 13 They say evil things against us, but we say only kind things to them. Even today, we are treated as though we are the garbage of the world—the dirt of the earth.
14 I am not trying to make you feel ashamed. I am writing this to give you a warning as if you were my own dear children. 15 For though you may have 10,000 teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Through the Good News I became your father in Christ Jesus. 16 So I beg you, please be like me. 17 That 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. This way of life is what I teach in all the churches everywhere.
18 Some of you have become proud, thinking that I will not come to you again. 19 But I will come very soon if the Lord wants me to. Then I will see what those who are proud can do, not what they say. 20 I want to see this because the kingdom of God is not talk but power. 21 Which do you want: that I come to you with punishment, or that I come with love and gentleness?
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