A Gentle Spirit

1 Corinthians 4:18-21

18Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19But 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. 20For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

Ladies and Gentlemen!

“Ladies and Gentlemen!” Those words are most often heard when they address the audience. The term “Lady” is understood as a woman who is refined, polite, well-spoken; a woman of high social position or economic class. The term “Gentleman” pertains to a man regarded as having qualities of refinement associated with a good family, cultured, courteous, and well-educated fellow.

So, when speakers address their audience with “Ladies and Gentlemen,” they expect refined, cultured politeness and courteousness from everyone else.

In comparison, when in his letter Apostle Paul addressed the Corinthians as brothers and sisters in Christ, he expected them to respond to his rebuke in the way of life in Christ that agrees to what he preached everywhere in every church. He expected them that they should behave and respond properly as Christians.

Apostle Paul has exemplified and encouraged recipients of his letters to follow his examples, not just to the Corinthians. He said in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-7,

4For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

Truly, this world is infected with difficult problems. Response to suffering may expose our behavior. During struggles, can we have joyful peace? How could we behave as Christians in the times of difficulties? Seek to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. The church in Thessalonica imitated the lifestyle of Apostle Paul; they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they became model to the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. The city of Corinth was part of Achaia, and the church in Corinth could have easily heard or informed about the church in Thessalonica.

It is very common for churches to imitate ministry activities from others. And we have to be very prayerful of what to imitate, if it is the will of God for us.

1.  Will

18Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19But 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. 

Who are the arrogant Corinthians? Probably, those who did not personally know Apostle Paul, particularly those who joined the church in Corinth after Paul and his mission team left the city of Corinth. Why did Paul say they’re arrogant? Did they interpret Christian freedom in Christ as following leaders they preferred?

Apostle Paul planned to visit the church in Corinth. But take note that he added, “If the Lord is willing.” Did he imply that our plans can only materialize if it is within the will of God?   Together, let’s reflect on what it says in Proverbs 19:21:

21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Planning is advisable. Someone said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” And you have heard smart people will prepare for Plan A, Plan B or Plan C, why? Is it because they just want to be prepared for possible failure of their Plan A?

Is it possible to plan and be sure of success in our life, career or business?

How do you personally interpret what it declares in Proverbs 15:22? 22Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Did Apostle Paul seek counsel when he planned to visit the Corinthians? He did not promise to visit them on his own purpose or desire. He visits them only, if the Lord is willing. Whatever he planned to do was within the will of God.


We have great experience within the will of God. Before we went to missions, I was told to affiliate with mission agencies for supports. I tried to connect with various mission agencies. But when our contact in the mission field agreed to meet us at the airport, I took that as God’s signal for us to proceed. I decided to proceed without mission agency affiliation and with only $300 pocket money.

How can $300 support a family of 5 for 30-month stay in the mission field? Thousands of prayer partners offered to pray for us. The Lord had opened doors for paid teaching jobs. Missionaries we never met before helped us adjusted in the field. Individually and as family, mission experiences were very memorable.

We pray that one of these days, church members hear their call to serve God in mission. Let’s reflect on what Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9,

7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 

The Thessalonians followed how Apostle Paul behaved among them so that they have become model to Christians throughout Macedonia and Achaia.

Some believers in the church of Corinth personally knew how Paul behaved. When he said that he will visit them to find out not only how the arrogant people are talking, but what power they have, did Paul want to expose their confidence was just arrogance? Friends: Practice of faith in Christ gives us confidence in what we do. Together, let us seriously reflect on what it advises us in James 4:15-16:

15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

The temptation to please others causes anyone to promise anything so that listeners won’t feel bad. Most often, parents fall into this trap of making promises to their children. If their children are bothersome, their parents promise anything just to appease them, and hope that they will stop attracting so much attention.

Has someone told you that when there is no intention to fulfill a promise, it is just misleading deception? Do not promise if no intention to fulfill. Biblically, broken promises are just boasting on arrogant scheme which is evil.

Whatever we promise or say, our words should reflect our practice of faith.

2.  Word

20For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 

What did Apostle Paul mean by “Not a matter of talk but of power?” It can be translated as “Not just spoken words but of power.” The kingdom of God is exhibited more through his miraculous power and not just preaching or talking.

Were you tempted to compare preachers? The Corinthian church heard Apollos, who was trained in public speaking and well-verse in the Scripture. They heard when Peter used simple words that can be easily understood because he was not educated. Apostle Paul was intellectual; he was a Pharisee. Accordingly, it was suggested that his speech was boring, and it can make listeners fall asleep.

Interestingly, it narrated in Acts 20:9-12, 9Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

What had caused Eutychus to fall asleep? Was it because he was so bored?

Or did the Lord cause him to fall asleep so that they could witness the miraculous power of God through Apostle Paul? This biblical proof of the miraculous power of God could be practical example of what Apostle Paul wanted the Corinthians to know as proof that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of word but of power.

When he told them of his plan for a visit, he wanted to find out what the arrogant Corinthians may say and what power they have practically performed.

Guest Speakers

There are many church activities that Christians celebrate traditionally. We celebrate church anniversaries as grand moment to praise and thank God for his work in our life and in the church. Some churches invite prominent personalities to preach during church anniversaries, why? They may want to attract attendees.

It is God’s power at work in our life when we attend so that we want to learn more about Christ. We believe in Christ not because of pleasant words from prominent celebrities. We are transformed by the grace and power of God.

The church in Corinth was divided. Quarrel and faction among them may have been triggered by their desire for preferred preachers. And some of them openly declared that they followed Paul; others followed Apollos. Still others followed Peter. This problem of faction can happen anywhere in every church.

Division and faction in the church is still possible until we reach our goal to be united in faith and knowledge of Christ. We pray for spiritual growth, and when we grow numerically, more pastors will be needed. Do you believe that God has anointed pastors who will join us in the future? What are your preferences?

Do you wish for this church to grow spiritually and numerically? Pray for it!

3.  Wish

21What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

Can you accept that this rhetoric of Apostle Paul on what they wished or preferred is also addressed to every local church? Paul planned to visit Corinth, if God is willing. Will he criticize or embarrass them for not united as church? No! Of course! The way of life in Christ that Paul taught everywhere in every church, he exemplified it. He planned to visit them to correct, instruct and discipline them.

The term discipline means correction, rebuke, instruction toward maturity.

Being a former Pharisee, Apostle Paul was very knowledgeable of the Scripture. Surely, he must have personally kept in mind what it declares in Proverbs 9:7-9: 7Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. 8Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. 9Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

The term mocker is also properly interpreted as arrogant, and Apostle Paul called out some arrogant Corinthians. His letter to the Corinthians was addressed to genuine believers who may want to become wiser and add to their learning.

Did Apostle Paul expect that some arrogant Corinthians may read his letter somehow? Maybe, he hoped that they will change their behaviors. With that in his mind, he told them his plan of visit, if God is willing; he wanted to personally find out what the arrogant Corinthians were talking about; and he also wanted to prove personally, if they have the power also to perform miracles.

Do you believe that miracles can still happen nowadays among Christians?

Did the Scripture mention if there will be no more miracles in future generations? Do you wish to personally experience the miraculous power of God in your life?

Here is what you can do: Pray that God empower you with his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, to inspire and enable you to personally see his miraculous power at work. Watch out for struggle, difficulty, personal concern, family problem or church related matters that may affect or interest you.

Pray about it with sincerity and seriousness. While waiting for that moment when the Lord practically show his miraculous power at work, together, let us reflect on what the Lord admonishes us in 1 Timothy 4:7-11: 7Train yourself to be godly. 8For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11Command and teach these things. 

If you wish to excel as an athlete, musician, painter, artist, cook, baker, or in any field you wish, you’ve got to train yourself. Greatness requires disciplined training. Similarly, for us to grow mature spiritually, we must rely upon the grace of God to train ourselves and be disciplined for godliness in our actions, words and gentle spirit. May we hear Christ’s most cherished words: “Well done, good and faithful servants!

><((‘> .. ><((‘> … ><(((“> tmec\2023 <“)))>< …  <‘))>< .. <‘))><

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.