“Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?” 1 Corinthians 4:18-21
We all need discipline if we are to accomplish anything. This is one of the problems in our world today; our children do not know disciple. A child needs to be broken, but not destroyed. Until a colt is broken, it is dangerous and useless, but once it learns to obey, it becomes gentle and useful. Pride is a terrible thing in the Christian life and in the church. The Corinthians had become puffed up, even to the point of saying, “Paul will not come to us! His bark is worse than his bite.”
Paul has been patient with the church’s disobedience, but now he wanted them to know that the time has come for discipline. Paul knew that with a child it was not enough just to be a good example. There also needs to be discipline. Paul would have preferred to come with meekness and deal with their sins in a gentle way, but their attitude made this difficult. The arrogant Corinthians had no problem talking big the way children often do; but they could not back up their talk with their walk. Their religion was only in words. Paul was prepared to back up his talk with power that would reveal their sins and God’s holiness. It is a principle of life that those who will not govern themselves must be governed.