1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 34
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|It is a hard thing to be around arrogant people, but particularly when they are spiritually arrogant. The apostle Paul, as we have seen in chapter 4, loves the Corinthian believers. All that he has told them is from a loving heart. He has been very tough on them, but all of it has to do with people who have detached themselves from Christ and attached themselves to something else. He has said all those tough things to help them to understand that they need to come back and live by faith, come back to just attach themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.|
1 Corinthians 4:18-21
It is a hard thing to be around arrogant people, but particularly when they are spiritually arrogant. The apostle Paul, as we have seen in recent verses in chapter 4, loves the Corinthian believers. All that he has told them is from a loving heart. He has been very tough on them from 1:12 all the way down to where we are just picking up in 4:18. All of it has to do with people who have detached themselves from Christ and attached themselves to something else and the result of all of that. If they had just lived attached to Jesus, he wouldn’t have had to say the hard things that he has had to say. He has said all those tough things to help them to understand that they need to come back and live by faith, come back to just attach themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, we come to verse 18. Paul now turns to the guilty ones, and he will address all of them as he continues on in the book. They know who they are.
You know, in the military they have several readiness levels. DEFCON (DEFense readiness CONdition) 5 is the easiest level that you are ever on. DEFCON 4 means, uh oh, something is going on. We have to move it up a level. DEFCON 3 is pretty serious. DEFCON 2 is really up there. DEFCON 1 is when our armed forces are under the threat of a foreign attack. We haven’t been at that very often in America, but DEFCON 1 is a point of urgency: the attack is imminent.
I thought about that. The apostle Paul, from 1:12 to 4:18, has gone from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 1. After he has told them, “I love you, I am your father in the faith,” he turns around now and is going to move in with force. He is going to address those spiritually arrogant people. Now, by that we mean those who have detached themselves from Christ and have attached themselves to anything of the flesh.
I want you to remember, as we go through Corinthians, we see people attached to people, we see people attached to their opinions, we see people attached to the lust of their flesh, we see people attached to their spiritual gifts, we see people attached to just about everything you can attach yourself to. And the whole problem is, they detach themselves from Christ.
Before I get started, let me ask you a question. What are you attached to? That is going to tell you everything about your spiritual condition. If you are not living attached to Christ, as verses 29 talk about in chapter 1, then evidently everything else goes haywire.
Look at verse 18. We are going to read down through verse 21, and then we will look at the verses. “Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power. What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?”
Now, he doesn’t tell us who these people are who are spiritually arrogant. The thought even went through my mind, I wonder if it is the leadership of the church of Corinth. He does not say that specifically, so we have to leave it open-ended. Whoever they are, the message Paul sends to them is very clear. First of all, he deals with their spiritual insolence. You know, when you are spiritually arrogant, there is going to be an insolent attitude about you, an unwillingness to obey authority.
He says in verse 18, “Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.” Now, when he says “some,” I think that is important. Go back to 1:12. This is important to me. I don’t know if it is to you or not, but in my studying I saw a little difference here. He says, “Now some of you have become arrogant.” In 1:12 he says, “Now I mean this, that each one of you.” Hekastos is the word used there, but the word he uses here in 4:18 is the plural form of the little word tis, which means some of you, talking about more than one but not all of you. I think that is significant. Somewhere along the way perhaps we can discover why that is so significant.
The verb “have become” is the aorist passive indicative: something has caused some of these people to become arrogant. The subject is being acted upon when you have the passive voice. Now the word for “arrogant” is an interesting word. It is going to take us a while to deal with it. It is the word phusioo. It has two o’s on the end of it. In other words, when somebody is this way, it is clearly evident to everybody. But what does that mean? Well, it comes from the word that means to blow up or to inflate something. Have you ever tried to inflate one of those air mattresses? When you finish blowing it up, it is full of air. You might mistake it for a real mattress until you jump on it hard enough and find out that it is only air when the thing pops and the air goes out and it goes flat again. It is air on the inside of it.
The idea in the New Testament is a pride and conceit. It has the thought of somebody thinking more highly of themselves than they should and, therefore, putting themselves into a position to where they will not listen to anyone else: to be an arrogant bag of wind. When I was growing up, they were called a blow hard, somebody who was always full of hot air, that kind of individual.
Well, it is used six times in 1 Corinthians, and it gives us a vivid description of what we are talking about here. Somebody who is spiritually arrogant is just a big bag of wind; that is all they are. We see some things that come out about them that is very important.
The first time it is used is in 1 Corinthians 4:6. Let’s go back to it because it tells us something about the spiritually arrogant. First Corinthians 4:6 says, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes.” He has dropped off Cephas and Christ and is just dealing with himself and Apollos here. He says we are doing it for a reason: “that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” Now arrogance is alongside of, exceeding, that which is written. In literal form it means to not go above that which is written, as if your will and your desire is higher than what God’s desire is. So the first thing we have got to understand about a person who is spiritually arrogant is that he is certainly willing to exceed that which is written, to go above that which God has written.
Now, when a person does that, he or she obviously does not respect the authority of God. Now, if we don’t respect God’s authority, it is obvious we won’t respect the Word as being our authority. Then, therefore, we don’t respect any authority. We become our own authority. That is what it means to be spiritually arrogant. That is where it starts. The very moment I detach myself from surrendering to Christ, walking and living up under His Word, is the moment I attach myself to something else and decide that I am going to go above that which is written. I don’t need the Word. I can go above it. I can exceed that which is written. We become our own authority. This person, whoever they might be, is thinking his way is right. In other words, nobody is going to change him. He is going to be like he is going to be. Nobody can tell him anything. As a result, we see other characteristics develop in his life.
Look over in 5:2 where it is also used. It makes us insensitive to sin. That is what chapter 5 is going to start addressing head-on. It says in verse 2, “And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst.” They were refusing to practice any kind of church discipline over somebody who was committing incest with somebody in his own family, as chapter 5 is going to talk about when we get there. Because you have become arrogant and have exceeded what is written and have become your own authority, now you are insensitive to sin and won’t deal with it. There is no discipline of sin amongst you.
Well, in 8:1 it shows us something else that happens to the spiritually arrogant, those who exceed the written word, those who are going to be their own authority. They are bags of wind, but they think they are doing it the right way. You become proud of your knowledge. Of course, God resists the proud. “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” So a person who is spiritually arrogant is a person who is proud of his knowledge, but he has no love to go along with it, which proves the fact that he is living that which God has spoken.
Then we find over in 13:4 a person who is spiritually arrogant is unable to display any of the love of God. You see, this kind of love, that is, the fruit of the Spirit of God, cannot be displayed by a person who is living attached to anything other than Christ. It says in verse 4, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and love is not arrogant.”
So you are beginning to understand, I think, a little bit about what it means to be spiritually arrogant. It is a person not living attached to Christ. It is a person who has detached himself from Christ, moved above and beyond the Word of God, become his own authority and therefore, now the flesh reigns in his life. He is immature and fleshly, as Paul has already identified the church at Corinth.
This seems to be the thought of what he is talking about back in verse 18. Go back there. He says, “Now some [not all of you] have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.” Now this really got to me. The passive voice is used: you have become arrogant. Now what is it that made them become arrogant, other than the fact that they detached from Christ? Well, there is another thought here: that Paul is not coming to them. Now you say, “What has that got to do with anything?” “Is not coming” is a present participle. In other words, he is not even on his way, he is not even beginning to come back to Corinth. You say, “What does this have to do with anything?” Listen, the apostle Paul is not only their spiritual father, he is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we saw back in 1:1. He is the authority. But, when there is no authority around, “when the cat is away, the mice will play.” So those who are living exceeding the Word of God, they are saying and boasting, “Ah, Paul is not going to come back. We are just going to do what we want to do.” The apostle Paul says, “That is the height of insolence. You won’t submit to God. Why would I even think that you would submit to me?”
That is the insolent attitude, the rebellious spirit of a person who is spiritually arrogant. When the cat is away, the mice will play. “Well, Brother Wayne, I am not in church, and Jesus hasn’t come back yet. I can just do what I want to do and nobody is going to tell me any different.”
Paul is just exposing the insolent attitude they have. He says, “Many of you are doing what you are doing because of the rumor that I am not even coming.” No wonder he said to the Philippian church, “I am so thankful for you because you are not only obedient when I am with you, but much more so in my absence.” What does that tell you? That means the person you are being obedient to is not the man who had the authority, but it is God who gives the authority. Once I am obedient to God, then I can become submissive to others. A person who is spiritually arrogant, who doesn’t need the Word of God, who detaches himself from what God has to say, who becomes his own authority, the only time he is even nervous is if somebody who is a spiritual authority gets around him.
Sitting on a plane up in first class has been more fun. I sit next to some of these guys and I ask them, “What do you do?” They say, “Man, I am CEO,” of some big company. He starts telling me all about the stuff they do and then he looks at me and asks, “What do you do?” I say, “I am a pastor.” Folks, if this isn’t the height of what I am talking about here. They break out in a rash. They can memorize a computer manual and yet, when it comes to talking to a preacher, they don’t even know how to open their mouth. I guarantee you, some of them are deacons at some church someplace and now they are nervous because somebody who represents authority is sitting next to them. Had I not sat there, they wouldn’t have bothered with it. A man is what he is when he is by himself.
The height of spiritual arrogance is if the only time we get nervous is if somebody with spiritual authority comes around us and it tells you where your heart is that fast. Back in 1:1 he says, “Paul, an apostle called by Christ, by the will of God.” So therefore, we know he is the authority. He said, “Some of you have become arrogant because it is said that I am not coming to you. So, you think you can just do whatever you want to do.”
What is the key verse of the book of Judges? In Judges 17:6 and 21:25 it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel,” nobody was in authority, “so every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
Here Paul exposes the insolent attitude of the spiritual arrogant. It is an attitude that says, “I am not under anybody’s authority and you are not going to tell me anything. The only time I am going to get nervous is if somebody with a badge comes around.”
I was riding down the road from Memphis, Tennessee one time and I had a CB radio on. This guy came on and said, “Hey, good buddy. Put the pedal to the medal. Let the hammer down. There is not a Smokey all the way to the coast.”
Well, I was just driving on. I had cruise control. Thank God for cruise control. That just keeps me honest. I set it at the speed limit and was just riding along. There was this one guy saying, “Put the pedal to the medal. There is not a Smokey around here.” About that time somebody comes back on and says, “Hey, man, slow down. The guy who is telling you to put the pedal to the medal is a Smokey and he is sitting down here about 25 miles. He has 15 cars pulled off the road.”
Everybody started saying all kinds of things on there that I would rather not tell you. One guy comes on. He doesn’t even identify himself. He just pops on and says, “Well, if you would obey the law, you wouldn’t have to worry about them.” He just got off real quick. Somebody else came in who didn’t identify themselves either and said, “Amen.” In other words, the wicked flee.
Listen, the attitude of arrogance is that you are under no authority, so therefore, the only time you are nervous is if somebody who represents that authority gets around you. Otherwise, you are going to do what you are going to do because you have detached yourself from Christ and you are living that conceited, arrogant life of the church of Corinth.
Well, the second thing he does is he warns them. He said, “Now I am coming to you. I am coming to you and when I get there, I am going to observe whether or not there is any power with all these good words that you are sharing with everybody. It is one thing to boast about it.” It is not your talk, folks, it is the walk that is behind your talk. Somebody told me years ago, my reputation is what people think about me; my character is what my wife and my children know about me. But you know, you can go another step from that. It is really what God knows about me when I am by myself. It even takes you further than that.
Verse 19 says, “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power.” You know, the word for “word” here is logos, which means intelligent words. But be real careful. You can have somebody who gives intelligent words, who might even sound spiritual, but that doesn’t document it. Look at the life that backs it up. Do they live what they preach? Is there any power of God behind it? Is there the touch of God on their live? This is kind of where he is headed.
These people, whoever they were, thought Paul wasn’t coming back. Paul said, “Hey, I am coming back,” but then he qualifies it. He says, “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills.” That word “soon” means immediately, quickly, I mean, before you can blink an eye. It is the word used in Galatians 1:6 when he says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him.” Then over in Philippians 2:19 we see it when it says, “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly.” He means right away. Paul said, “I am coming to you right away.”
Sometimes we think of soon, and what does that really mean? Right away, immediately I am coming to you. But then he adds something to it. He qualifies it. He said, “if the Lord wills.” You know what I like about the apostle Paul? He has come out of the nursery, hasn’t he? He has already thrown his pacifier away, and he has learned some things in qualifying what he says. He has learned what Proverbs says. Proverbs says in 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” So it would be foolish for Paul to say, “I am coming soon.” He is not real sure if God might not intervene in that, so he puts a disclaimer on it. “As far as I have anything to do with it, I am coming soon. But I know something about this. I have been this route before. God just might have other ideas before I get there.” He wasn’t an immature believer. God had taught him quite a bit about this. He had full intentions, but if the Lord wills.
By the way, the word “will,” thelo, is that which God intends and which God gets involved with in carrying it all the way out to its purpose. Turn to James 4:14. James says the same thing. You see, when you are up under subjection to Christ, you can’t even tell what you are going to do tomorrow. You just plan your way and let God direct your step. That is when the adventure begins. You understand that God is going to direct your paths even though you plan your way when you are attached to Him. But if you are detached from Him, you can make all kind of promises you can’t keep. Verse 14 says, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Isn’t that an incredible statement? A vapor that appears and just vanishes away.
You know, I didn’t understand that years ago, because days sometimes would go by so fast. But now months go by so fast, years go by so fast, and I am thinking, “Wow, just a vapor.”
Look in verse 15. It says, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.’”
Let’s look at Paul’s life. I know I am taking a side thought here, but remember, he is writing to immature believers. He is a mature believer. Let’s just see some things he has learned in Scripture about what he just said to them. He has already exposed their own arrogance. They don’t live up under the authority of God. They could give a rip. They don’t live in the Word of God. But he does. What can we learn from a man who does live this way?
Well, he lives a day at a time. Look over in Acts 16:6. These are just a couple of instances in his life how Paul learned that what he intended to do might not be what God was intending to do. If you are submitted to what God is intending to do, you are willing to turn it loose and let God do it, even in the little things. I love these verses because they are so comforting. He had the right intentions. He just wasn’t in the right direction yet. He says, “And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia.” The imperfect tense is used in here. I mean, they tried and they tried again. They tried and they tried again. I love that because at least it is honest.
He says, “and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.” The Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him go in there. Verse 8 goes on, “and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.” Aren’t you glad in America that he went down to Troas? It was at Troas that he got the Macedonian vision. Paul took the fact that he couldn’t get into all these other places and concluded that he must go over to Macedonia. He didn’t just go by the vision. He took all the other facts, factored them in, drew a line and said, “Wow, it is obvious to me that God is sending me someplace else.”
Macedonia was what is now the southernmost tip of Europe. Christianity started there and then moved up to a place called England. As a result of that, there was a group of people who came from England over to America for religious freedom. Here we are today in the United States of America. Thank God He had a better place for Paul to go.
Paul had learned this. Even though you plan your way, God directs your steps. That is what he is saying to them. “Hey, I am talking to some immature folks here, but I am not immature because I know something. I walk with God and I am surrendered to His will. I am telling you I am coming soon, but I am giving a disclaimer because I am under authority to the One who tells me where I am going and when I am going there. And it might not be as soon as I thought it was going to be.”
Over in the book of Romans Paul said, “I can’t wait to get to the church of Rome. I can’t wait to preach the gospel to you.” Then he goes on at the end of the book and says, “I am going to come to you by way of Spain after I go to Jerusalem.” Little did he know what was ahead of him. When he got to Jerusalem, and as a result of what happened there, he spent almost five years of his life in prison, two and a half years in Caesarea and then the rest of it in Rome, on false accusations. He did get to Rome, but he went in chains, not like he thought he was going to go.
So the apostle Paul is even modeling what he is trying to tell them. “I am under authority. I am telling you, I am coming soon. And when I get there, I am going to look at your life, not what you say. But, if the Lord wills, I will be there soon. I don’t know exactly what He wants to tell me tomorrow, but I am coming. You can put that rumor to rest, if God wills. I am going to look at your life. I am not going to listen to what you say.”
An air bag when it is burst reveals nothing but an empty container. Have you bought any potato chips lately? Have you bought these big bags of potato chips? You are thinking, “Man, this will last for two months.” But what happens when you get home and let the air out? There is hardly anything in them!
That is what people who are spiritually arrogant are like. They can put on a good act. They can come to church and act like they love Jesus. They can talk it, but they don’t walk it. You put some pressure on them and what is going to be revealed is nothing but air. That is what arrogance is all about. Paul says, “When I come, I don’t want to hear what you say. I want to see how you are living, if God’s grace is enabling you to be what He told you that you need to be.”
Paul says to those who have become arrogant, “I want to look at your power.” Now the word for “power” there is the word dunamis. We know that word. Normally it refers to the ability required to accomplish a task our Lord Jesus assigned, when you put it in spiritual vocabulary. But really not here. That is part of it, but really that is not all of it here.
In 1 Corinthians 4:18, it refers to the essential reality of something, the true nature of something, the source of something. You see, the only source that these people had was hot air. But he wants them to find the source of something. Where is it coming from? Like in Philippians 3:10, he says, “The power of His resurrection,” not just the power but the source of that power being God Himself.
Look over in 2 Timothy 3:5. I will show you what I am talking about. In 2 Timothy 3:5 Paul talks about the last days. He uses it in such a way I think it is clear that we can see. He is talking about the source of it, not just the ability. That is part of it, certainly, but he is referring to the actual source, where it comes from. Second Timothy 3:5 says, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” Who is the power? The Holy Spirit of God living in us. It is God’s grace that enables us. So it is not just the ability. That is part of it, yes. It is the source. It is where you are coming from.
In the context, he contrasts it with words, because, you see, it is not just words that we are looking at. It is also the power that goes along with the words. That is what he is saying. Look over in 1 Thessalonians 1:5. When I saw this, it really hit me that I had seen this other places and I didn’t even realize it. First Thessalonians 1:5 says, “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” Now he is not talking about signs and wonders. He is talking about the greatest sign and wonder, how a man can be transformed from within, how a man can actually become enabled to be that which God has told him to be. That is real power. This other stuff, I wouldn’t hang my hat on any of it.
Paul says, “We proved what manner of men we were. We didn’t just tell you something. We lived before you what we said, you see, so that the glory would go to Him and not to us. It is not just in word, it is with power.” So he comes and says, “Hey, I hear your talk, and it is intelligent.” He uses the word logos. It is not just babble. He says, “I know you sound intelligent with some of the things you are saying. Some of you have come to pretty boastful conclusions here. I am not even coming to hear that. I am coming to see where you are coming from. I want to see your walk.”
You know, it is amazing how even at church, some of us act spiritual. But wouldn’t it be great if we could just be a fly on the wall in everybody’s house. No, it wouldn’t be great, but it would be honest, wouldn’t it? Where are we coming from? We talk it, but where is the power behind it. Not the power to do miracles but the great miracle of being what God tells us we are supposed to be.
Well, I think Paul illustrates this over in chapter 12 and verse 4. I think this is what he is saying there. There are three things that have got to be accompanied together if God is in it. It is not just what you say. It is God’s hand upon it, the power, the grace that enables and transforms. By the way, with that grace comes the ability to discern when it is there. That is grace in itself, to be able to discern when somebody who talks it walks it. There is a discernment, not from man, from God. Over in 1 Corinthians 12:4 he says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.” The Holy Spirit gives the gifts, and Christ gives the ministry.
But look at verse 6. “And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” It is like the Spirit gives the gift, Jesus gives the ministry and the Father takes care of the results. Well, if any one of those is missing, something is wrong.
You know, so many people come to me and say, “I just really believe I am called to preach. Can you get me a church?” I don’t know who people think I am. But if God calls a man and if God gifts a man, then God will give the ministry. God will give the effect.
Have we ever stopped to think that some people who think they are called to the ministry might not be in the preaching ministry? It might be someplace else? All these years we have felt like if anybody is in the ministry, he has either got to a preacher or a music leader or whatever. Hey, any Christian who attaches himself to Christ becomes a minister. Let God give the ministry, and God will give the effect. But if people go to school and get a degree, they think they qualify. Everything they say sounds intelligent. But there is never the power that backs that up. Hey, don’t worry about that. God is the one who does it as He wills, it says on over in 1 Corinthians.
But anyway, Paul is saying, “I am coming to see where you are coming from. I want to see your walk, not your talk.” The effect, I believe, is what he is talking about.
Where is the power that is there? Look in 1 Corinthians 2:2. Remember how Paul came to them. He is his own example. He is his own illustration. First Corinthians 2:2 says, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” He understood his responsibility. “And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” He understood that he could stand there and intellectualize any of them out of the group. But he said, “I didn’t come that way. I came in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Verse 5 tells us why: “that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” The evidence of that power is in verse 5 of chapter 3. Here is the evidence of the power that worked along with Paul when he came. He didn’t just speak intelligent words coming from God and from God’s Word. Something went along with it. First Corinthians 3:5 says, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”
There is your effect. There is the proof in the pudding there. There is what he is talking about. You can talk and talk and talk. Where are the spiritual things that go along with it? The enabling power that God had. Words are cheap. Paul says, “I am coming to see the source of your words. I am going to check your lifestyle. I am not coming to hear what you have to say. I am coming to see how you walk.
Chapter 4 verse 20 says, “For the kingdom of God.” The word “kingdom” is the territory where a king reigns. If you are saying you are members of the kingdom of God and you are part of the territory, your hearts are part of the territory where God reigns. Paul says, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.” That is a divine enablement to be what God has commanded you to be.
Paul says, “Hey, I already know of your insolence and I am coming to check and see whether there is any impotence here in your spiritual ability to be the people God has called you to be. He already knows the answer to both of those things.
The last thing I want to share with you sounds like my Mama or my Dad. Somebody who loves you will ask you this question. Look at what he says in verse 21. “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with a love and a spirit of gentleness?” Do you know what he said? He is saying, “Do you want to deal with it now or do you want me to come and deal with it?” That is what he is saying. It is like many times, my Dad would call me up on the phone when I hadn’t done something. He would say, “Now Son, do you want to do it now or would you rather me come home to encourage you to do it?” It is amazing how quickly you will move knowing that the authority is coming.
I want to tell you, Paul wears the badge, folks. He is an apostle. He said, “I am coming, God willing. You either deal with it now, or I will bring the rod with me.” Now do you think he is going to bring a stick and beat them? No. I am going to have to ask him in heaven. Most pastors have thought about it.
If you take a rod to somebody, it is painful, isn’t it? Paul is saying is, “You think it is painful for me to write you, it is going to be a whole lot more painful if I come and have to deal with it with you. Now make up your mind. Get it right and get it right now. Do you want to deal with it now or do you want to wait until I come? I think you would rather me come with love and a spirit of gentleness.” That word “gentleness” has that idea of brokenness, but it is not weakness. That is not what he is saying. It is power that is under control. He is saying, “Would you rather have me that way, like a broken horse?” When you break a horse, that horse is still powerful, but it is broken. He says, “Do you want me to come that way, because as an apostle, I have an authority here? Do you want to deal with it before I get there? You have to make up your own mind.”
What father wouldn’t do this? Remember, he has already qualified most of this message anyway. In Proverbs 3:13 we read, “For whom the Lord loves, He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights.” He loves these people. He is not trying to embarrass them. He loves them. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines and He scourges every son whom He receives.” Revelation 3:19 tells us, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent.”
That is exactly what Paul is saying to the church of Corinth. “Don’t make me have to come to you. Be zealous and repent.” He has established the fact that he is their spiritual father, and now he is warning them. What do you desire? Shall I come with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness.