1Co 4:14-17 “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.”
During times of correction, it is easy to lose sight of the love and sacrifice being shown to us. Our feelings are hurt because someone we hold in esteem is finding fault with our behavior. It is unsettling and often embarrassing to us. We may even find ourselves harboring feelings of resentment toward the one doing the correcting.
Paul is careful to assure us that his correction is not meant to shame us or belittle us. He calls this a warning, and the Greek word translated as warn means “to reprove gently (see Strong’s).” Paul’s admonition was given in the spirit one would use to correct dearly loved children. Most of us can look back and remember a time when our fathers corrected us: it seemed harsh at the time but we recall it now with tenderness because we know it was born out of a deep love for us.
God may send us many servants along life’s pathway that are there to take us to school (see Strong’s definition of “instructors”). We should be thankful for all these instructors in Christ. At the same time, He sends to us some who are not only given charge of our instruction, but are as fathers to us in their concern for our spiritual well-being. Having someone who is a father in Christ is a rich blessing from God.
Being a father in Christ is not something to take lightly, nor is it something we take unto ourselves. It is something that occurs in Jesus Christ. There is a relationship that is founded in Him whereby He uses men to take up the mantel of a father through the good news. One whom the Lord has sent to be a father is a reliable pattern for us in our walk in the church.
When the Lord sends us fathers in the gospel, He also provides them with a witness of their fidelity to Him and to His children. Paul told the Corinthians that he was sending Timothy to them as such a witness. The tone of the scriptures indicates that it would have been well known in Paul’s travels just how much he loved and cared for Timothy. Paul is, in essence, telling the brethren he has been so diligently correcting that his love for them is no less than his love for Timothy.
He also points out that, in following him, Timothy has walked faithful in the Lord. He is sending Timothy as proof of Paul’s fidelity among all the brethren. Timothy is coming to remind how that Paul’s journey has been in the Lord, and his counsel has been the same everywhere he has been. In every church and every situation, Paul has given God the glory and counted his life before his conversion as nothing. Now he is telling his beloved children at Corinth to follow his example in Christ and forsake their worldly wisdom.
May God give us the wisdom to be thankful for our fathers in the gospel and to be diligent when we are called on to become fathers in the same manner!