1 So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God's secrets.
2 Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.
3 What about me? Have I been faithful? Well, it matters very little what you or anyone else thinks. I don't even trust my own judgment on this point.
4 My conscience is clear, but that isn't what matters. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.
5 So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether or not someone is faithful. When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. And then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due.
6 Dear brothers and sisters,* I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I've been saying. If you pay attention to the Scriptures,* you won't brag about one of your leaders at the expense of another.1
7 What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?
8 You think you already have everything you need! You are already rich! Without us you have become kings! I wish you really were on your thrones already, for then we would be reigning with you!
9 But sometimes I think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor's parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world--to people and angels alike.
10 Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you are so wise! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are well thought of, but we are laughed at.
11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, without enough clothes to keep us warm. We have endured many beatings, and we have no homes of our own.
12 We have worked wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us.
13 We respond gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world's garbage, like everybody's trash--right up to the present moment.
14 I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children.
15 For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.
16 So I ask you to follow my example and do as I do.
17 That is the very reason I am sending Timothy--to help you do this. For he is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord. He will remind you of what I teach about Christ Jesus in all the churches wherever I go.
18 I know that some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will never visit you again.
19 But I will come--and soon--if the Lord will let me, and then I'll find out whether these arrogant people are just big talkers or whether they really have God's power.
20 For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God's power.
21 Which do you choose? Should I come with punishment and scolding, or should I come with quiet love and gentleness?
Read 1 Corinthians 5