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1 Corinthians 4

Christ's servants

1 You should think about us, who are special workers and teachers on Christ's behalf, as Christ's servants. God has given a special job to us. He has shown his secrets to us and now we must explain them to other people. 2 A servant must remember all the things that his master wants him to do every day. He must do all those things, because his master wants him to do them.

3 But it is not important to me how you think about me. You may decide about how good I am. It does not matter to me what people decide about me. I do not even try to decide about myself. 4 I may think that I have not done any wrong things. But that does not make me right. Only the Lord can decide about me. 5 So, you should not decide about things before the right time comes. You must wait until the Lord comes again. He knows every secret. He knows everything that people are hiding in the dark. He will bring all those things out into the light. He will show to everyone the secret purposes that people have deep inside themselves. Then God will say good things about every person who has done good work.

6 Now, my Christian friends, I want to help you to understand better everything that I have said. I have used Apollos and myself as examples. So then you can learn by us what this means: ‘Obey what it says in the Bible.’ None of you should say that one person is more valuable than any other person. 7 You yourselves are no better than other people. God gave everything that you have to you. You know that. What you have was a gift. So, you should not think that you are more important than anyone else. You have no reason to think that.

8 You have plenty of everything already! You think that you are very rich already! So, you are ready to rule like kings, even while we are not rulers at all! I would really like you to be rulers, so that we could rule together with you! 9 God sent us, his special workers, to teach his message to people. But I think that he has given the least important place to us. We are like prisoners on our way to die in a place where everyone can see. Both people and angels are watching us. 10 People think that we are fools because of Christ. But you think that you yourselves understand so much! You think that, because you are united with Christ. You think that we are weak. And you think that you are strong! You think that we are not valuable. And you think that you yourselves are very valuable!

11 Until this day, we are often hungry, and we are often thirsty. Our clothes are very old. Sometimes people hit us, and we do not have a home. 12 We work very much, so that we are very tired. When people say bad things about us, we ask God to be good to them. When people are cruel to us, we are patient and brave. 13 When people say cruel words about us, we answer with kind words. Until this day, we are like the dirt of the whole world. We are like the dirty things that people throw away.

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed. You are like my own children that I love. And I want to explain to you why you are wrong. I want you to understand correctly. 15 I told the good news to you, so I became like a father to you. You belong to Christ now. And even if you have ten thousand guides to help you, you do not have many fathers. 16 That is why I ask you to copy my example. 17 For this reason, I am sending Timothy to visit you. He is like a son to me, and I love him very much. He continues always to believe the Lord and to obey him. He will cause you to remember how I live as a Christian, united with Christ. I teach the same things to all groups of Christians everywhere.

18 Some of you think that I will never come to visit you. You think that you yourselves are very important and powerful. You think that you know everything. 19 But I will come to visit you soon, if the Lord sends me. Then I will discover more than only what you are saying about yourselves. I will discover what power you important people really have. 20 When people are really obeying God as their king, it shows. We can see it because God's people live by his power. We will not know it only by what they say. 21 Certainly, I will come to visit you. So, you must choose what I come to do. I might come to be angry with you and to punish you. Or, instead, I might come to speak kind words to you. I might show you that I love you. You must choose.