1 A person should think of us as servants of Christ and managers entrusted with God's secrets.
2 Now it is required of managers that each one should prove to be trustworthy.
3 It is a very small thing to me that I should be examined by you or by any human court. In fact, I don't even examine myself.
4 For my conscience is clear, but that does not vindicate me. It is the Lord who examines me.
5 Therefore, stop judging before the proper time, before the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the motives of our hearts. Then each person will receive his praise from God.
6 Brothers, I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written. Then you will stop boasting about one person at the expense of another.
7 For who makes you superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?
8 You already have all you want! You have already become rich! You have become kings without us! I wish you really were kings so that we could be kings with you!
9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to death. We have become a spectacle for the world, for angels, and for people to stare at.
10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored.
11 To this very hour we are hungry, thirsty, dressed in rags, brutally treated, and homeless.
12 We wear ourselves out from working with our own hands. When insulted, we bless. When persecuted, we endure.
13 When slandered, we answer with kind words. Up to this moment we have become the filth of the world, the scum of the universe!
14 I'm not writing this to make you feel ashamed, but to warn you as my dear children.
15 You may have 10,000 guardians in Christ, but not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
16 So I urge you to become imitators of me.
17 That's why I sent Timothy to you. He is my dear and dependable child in the Lord and will help you remember my way of life in Christ Jesus as I teach it everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.
19 But I will come to you soon if it's the Lord's will. Then I'll discover not only what these arrogant people are saying but also what power they have,
20 for the kingdom of God isn't just talk but power.
21 Which do you prefer? Should I come to you with a stick, or in love and with a gentle spirit?