DO YOU WANT THE ROD?
1 Corinthians 4:18-21
1Co 4:18 Thinking that I no longer plan to come to you, some have acted arrogantly.
1Co 4:19 But I will come to you at once, if the Lord wants me to, and I will know not just the word about these arrogant people but their true power.
1Co 4:20 Because the kingdom of God does not just reveal itself with a word, but in power.
1Co 4:21 What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or with love in a gentle spirit?
Paul has gone from ranting about these jealous leaders to threatening them with a showdown. He is matching their words of criticism with words, so far, because he knows that is what the Lord wants. But he is letting them know in this letter that he is capable of demonstrating his authority if they insist on it. He had taught the Corinthians with love in a gentle spirit, and would prefer to do that again. But if need be, he can take on the role of disciplinarian, because sometimes a loving parent has to do that.
All of us in Christian leadership can be tempted to overstep the boundaries of our own authority. It is a good thing to keep in mind that the kingdom of God is about more than just words. If need be, our Lord can get down the rod, and discipline us. He does not want to, but he is not helpless.
LORD, give us all the wisdom to discipline ourselves, so that you do not have to discipline us.