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Paul Defends His Ministry

10 I, Paul, am begging you with the gentleness and the kindness of Christ. Some people say that I am easy on you when I am with you and strict when I am away. They think that we live in a worldly way. I plan to be very strict against them when I come. I beg you that when I come I will not need to use that same strictness with you. We do live in the world. But we do not fight in the same way that the world fights. We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God. These weapons can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy men’s arguments. And we destroy every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. We are ready to punish anyone there who does not obey. But first we want you to obey fully.

You must look at the facts before you. If anyone feels sure that he belongs to Christ, then he must remember that we belong to Christ just as he does. It is true that we brag freely about the authority the Lord gave us. But he gave us this authority to strengthen you, not to hurt you. So I will not be ashamed of the bragging we do. I don’t want you to think that I am trying to scare you with my letters. 10 Some people say, “Paul’s letters are powerful and sound important. But when he is with us, he is weak. And his speaking is nothing.” 11 They should know this: We are not there with you now, so we say these things in letters. But when we are there with you, we will show the same authority that we show in our letters.

12 We do not dare to put ourselves in the same group with those who think that they are very important. We do not compare ourselves to them. They use themselves to measure themselves, and they judge themselves by what they themselves are. This shows that they know nothing. 13 But we will not brag about things outside the work that was given us to do. We will limit our bragging to the work that God gave us. And this work includes our work with you. 14 We are not bragging too much. We would be bragging too much if we had not already come to you. But we have come to you with the Good News of Christ. 15 We limit our bragging to the work that is ours. We do not brag in the work other men have done. We hope that your faith will continue to grow. And we hope that you will help our work to grow much larger. 16 We want to tell the Good News in the areas beyond your city. We do not want to brag about work that has already been done in another man’s area. 17 But, “If a person brags, he should brag only about the Lord.”[a] 18 It is not the one who says he is good who is accepted but the one that the Lord thinks is good.

Footnotes

  1. 10:17 “If a person . . . Lord.” Quotation from Jeremiah 9:24.

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