1 Corinthians 4:14-21
14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
Paul calls the Corinthians his children. He is their father in the faith, but there are others who are guardians, or those who keep the children on the right path. Guardians use objects such as sticks and whips to keep the children going in the right direction. And though there seems to be thousands or guardians, Paul encourages them to imitate him as he possesses love and a gentle spirit as opposed to a whip. Humanity uses the power of violence to accomplish their will. God, in his kingdom, uses the power of love.
Which motivates you to serve Christ more: the violence and threats of those around you OR the love and gentle spirit of those around you? Which power do you use to "encourage" right living?
Almighty God, your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Amen.