Discipline in Love

Sometimes in our zeal to clean up our own lives or the lives of others, we unfortunately use “killer soaps”—condemnation, criticism, nagging, fits of temper. We think we’re doing right, but our harsh, self-righteous treatment is more than they can bear. More


3. He is a tender father (vv. 14-21). The Corinthians were Paul’s beloved children in the faith and he talks to them as a loving father would to his wayward children. Whenever we share the Gospel with someone and have the joy of leading them to faith in Christ, we become a “spiritual parent” in his life. Paul was an example to his spiritual family. He was also a good teacher. It takes both example and instruction to bring a child to maturity. He realized that if all he did was expose his readers to open shame, he would only provoke them. He was not like the modern mother who shouts at her disobedient child, “This is the last time I’m going to tell you!” He knew that he had to discipline them.

He would have preferred to come to them in meekness and deal with their sins in a gentle manner, but their own attitude made this difficult. He was not interested in making them cringe before him, but in correcting them and offering them a chance to respond and be restored. He ends by saying, “Shall I come unto you with a rod or in love?” (v. 21). It is all up to them. Paul is giving instruction on how to handle personal relationships:

  1. Proclaim confidence - We must convey some sense of confidence and love first.
  2. Present a model - People will always follow what you do and not what you say.
  3. Preserve liberty - Admonish, not command. Give liberty for making a choice.
  4. Project reality - Talk is cheap but change results in fruit. Walk your talk!


There is a big difference between knowing the right words and living them out. I need to let my life show that God’s power is really working in me. What am I doing, where is my fruit and what are the results of the ministry God has entrusted me with?

I Corinthians 4:14-21 (English Standard Version)

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