GOD'S WORD® Translation
1People should think of us as servants of Christ and managers who are entrusted with God's mysteries. 2Managers are required to be trustworthy. 3It means very little to me that you or any human court should cross-examine me. I don't even ask myself questions. 4I have a clear conscience, but that doesn't mean I have God's approval. It is the Lord who cross-examines me. 5Therefore, don't judge anything before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will also bring to light what is hidden in the dark and reveal people's motives. Then each person will receive praise from God.
6Brothers and sisters, I have applied this to Apollos and myself for your sake. You should learn from us not to go beyond what is written in Scripture. Then you won't arrogantly place one of us in opposition to the other. 7Who says that you are any better than other people? What do you have that wasn't given to you? If you were given what you have, why are you bragging as if it weren't a gift?
8You already have what you want! You've already become rich! You've become kings without us! I wish you really were kings so that we could be kings with you. 9As I see it, God has placed us apostles last in line, like people condemned to die. We have become a spectacle for people and angels to look at. 10We have given up our wisdom for Christ, but you have insight because of Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored. 11To this moment, we are hungry, thirsty, poorly dressed, roughly treated, and homeless. 12We wear ourselves out doing physical labor. When people verbally abuse us, we bless them. When people persecute us, we endure it. 13When our reputations are attacked, we remain courteous. Right now we have become garbage in the eyes of the world and trash in the sight of all people.
14I'm not writing this to make you feel ashamed but to instruct you as my dear children. 15You may have countless Christian guardians, but you don't have many [spiritual] fathers. I became your father in the Christian life by telling you the Good News about Christ Jesus. 16So I encourage you to imitate me. 17That's why I've sent Timothy to you to help you remember my Christian way of life as I teach it everywhere in every church. Timothy is my dear child, and he faithfully does the Lord's work. 18Some of you have become arrogant because you think I won't pay you a visit. 19If it's the Lord's will, I'll visit you soon. Then I'll know what these arrogant people are saying and what power they have. 20God's kingdom is not just talk, it is power. 21When I come to visit you, would you prefer that I punish you or show you love and a gentle spirit?