Paul speaks about his work as Christ's servant
1 I, Paul, need to ask you something. Perhaps you think that I am only humble when I am present there with you. You think that I only speak strongly to you when I am far away! Now I am away from you. But I am still humble and kind, like Christ is. 2 So, please listen to what I am asking you. Some people among you think that we live like people who belong to this world. When I come to visit you, I am sure that I will be brave enough to speak against those people. But I do not want to have to speak strongly like that against all of you.
3 It is true that we live in this world as humans. But we do not use our human ideas to fight against what is wrong. 4 It is like we are fighting in a war, but we do not use human weapons. Instead we use God's weapons. Those weapons are powerful enough to destroy the enemy's strong places. We use those weapons to destroy people's wrong ideas. 5 People may speak proud ideas that stop other people from knowing God. We show that those ideas are completely wrong. We change the way that people think, so that they want to obey Christ. 6 You must show that you are ready to obey completely. Then we will be ready to punish anyone who refuses to obey in any way.
7 Take a careful look at what is happening among you. If anyone is sure that he belongs to Christ, he should remember this: We also belong to Christ, just as he does. 8 You may think that I am too proud of my authority. But it is the Lord who has given that authority to us apostles. We have that authority so that we can help you become stronger as believers. We do not have it so that we can destroy you! So I am not ashamed to be proud of this.
9 When I write letters to you, I am not trying to frighten you. Please do not think that. 10 Some people say: ‘Paul's letters are powerful and they say strong things. But when he himself is here with us, he seems to be weak. And the words that he speaks have no value.’ 11 Anyone who says things like that should understand this: There is no difference between what we write and what we do. When we come to you, we will do what we have written in our letters.
12 Some people praise themselves. They say how clever they are. But we could never do that. We could not even try to be like those people. But they do not understand anything. They decide among themselves how good they are. They look at one another to see if they are better or worse. 13 As for us, we will only be proud of the work that God has given us to do. We will not be proud of anything more than that. And that includes our work among you. 14 We were the first people to come as far as Corinth and tell you the good news about Christ. That was part of the work that God has given to us to do. So it is right for us to tell you how proud we are.
15 We do not praise ourselves for the work that other people have done. That would not be right. But we hope that you will continue to believe more and more strongly. In that way our work among you will become even greater. But it will still be the work that God has given to us, and no more than that. 16 Then we want to tell God's good news to people in places beyond where you are. Those are not places where God has sent other people to work. Then we will not be praising ourselves for the work that anyone else has done. 17 The Bible says this:
‘If you want to be proud about something,
be proud of what the Lord has done.’
18 Who is really good? It is not the person who praises himself. It is the person that the Lord says is a good person.