Paul Defends His Work for Christ
1 Do you think I am a coward when I am with you and brave when I am far away? Well, I ask you to listen, because Christ himself was humble and gentle. 2 Some people have said we act like the people of this world. So when I arrive, I expect I will have to be firm and forceful in what I say to them. Please don't make me treat you that way. 3 We live in this world, but we don't act like its people 4 or fight our battles with the weapons of this world. Instead, we use God's power that can destroy fortresses. We destroy arguments 5 and every bit of pride that keeps anyone from knowing God. We capture people's thoughts and make them obey Christ. 6 And when you completely obey him, we will punish anyone who refuses to obey.
7 You judge by appearances. If any of you think you are the only ones who belong to Christ, then think again. We belong to Christ as much as you do. 8 Maybe I brag a little too much about the authority that the Lord gave me to help you and not to hurt you. Yet I am not embarrassed to brag. 9 And I am not trying to scare you with my letters. 10 Some of you are saying, “Paul's letters are harsh and powerful. But in person, he is a weakling and has nothing worth saying.” 11 Those people had better understand that when I am with you, I will do exactly what I say in my letters.
12 We won't dare compare ourselves with those who think so much of themselves. But they are foolish to compare themselves with themselves. 13 We won't brag about something we don't have a right to brag about. We will only brag about the work God has sent us to do, and you are part of that work. 14 We are not bragging more than we should. After all, we did bring the message about Christ to you.
15 We don't brag about what others have done, as if we had done those things ourselves. But I hope as you become stronger in your faith, we will be able to reach many more of the people around you. That has always been our goal. 16 Then we will be able to preach the good news in other lands where we cannot take credit for work someone else has already done. 17 The Scriptures say, “If you want to brag, then brag about the Lord.” 18 You may brag about yourself, but the only approval that counts is the Lord's approval.