I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

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

- 1 Corinthians 4:14-21

Leading up to this section in the chapter, Paul has been calling out the church of Corinth for not living in the ways that he taught them. Paul had shared the truth of Jesus with them and began the church in Corinth. He was instrumental in bring both Jews and Gentiles into the church, therefore he was the spiritual authority in that church, just as Daniel Simmons is a spiritual authority at Freshley. Paul was invested in the health of this place; but to his knowledge they were not living up to the ways he knew they could. What is important to grasp here is how Paul chooses to bring about correction. I'm sure that some of you cringe at the word "conviction", but it's important to separate that and condemnation.

That is what Paul is doing here. "I do not write these things to bring you shame, but to admonish you as my beloved children". He is separating the sin and the sinner. The Lord does not desire to condemn us in correction, but rather bring us closer to him. Conviction is not to belittle us but to set us free. So, when Paul is painting the picture for the church in Corinth of how to be, he says to be imitators of him, as he desires to imitate the life of Jesus.

So what does this look like for you? It means chancing perspective of correction. When we know that we are doing something God doesn't have for us, we do not have to fear how he will react. We never have to fear that we are too far gone. We never have to feel like we have to do enough good to get into the presence of the Father. The reality is that his love is so overwhelming that is will cover us; it will usher us into freedom. That's the kind of God we serve. Condemnation is not for us. Amen!

- Laura DeGroot