1 Corinthians 4:14–21 (NKJV)
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.1 Corinthians 4:14-21
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
Paul, one of the fathers of the New Testament church, proceeds to warn the members that they should heed and abide by his instructions to live in unity and avoid sectarianism. He establishes himself as their spiritual father, as opposed to just another instructor. He calls them to imitate him and to hear from one of his primary spiritual sons, Timothy. He then calls out those who would remain defiant, as if Paul would not ever come to deal with their rebellion. He confirms that he will come, and he will teach them about the power of God. However, the only choice that they have is whether he will come with love and gentleness, or whether he will come with correction and force. God wants us to learn truth and righteousness. In old police shows and movies, they would tell the criminals, “We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way.” This seems to be what Paul is saying to the Corinthians. Perhaps we could allow God to show us His truth with gentleness, as compliant and obedient children, rather than as brats who question His every command. Lord, help us to see things your way in obedience.
Artwork from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NISzrkb7xWo