Some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 1 Corinthians 4:18
The Corinthians had become arrogant—inflated. They thought they could do whatever they pleased—for who would hold them accountable? Lack of accountability is the seed of arrogance. Paul told them, “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power” (4:19-20). Paul promised to find out where these men were coming from, because he believed, and rightly so, that a person’s true spiritual character is not determined by the impressiveness of his words, but by the power of his life. As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20).
Another way of saying accountability is discipline. Discipline means holding other, especially our children (both physical children and spiritual) accountable for the consequences of their actions, and being as firm as we have to be to do that. Paul asked the Corinthians, “What do you desire? Shall I come with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Corinthians 4:21). As a loving father to them, Paul said he could deal with them with either the stick or gentleness. He was flexible; the choice was theirs.
“But discipline is so unloving,” you may say. If you believe that, you’re at odds with God’s opinion: “Whom the Lord loves, He reproves” (Proverbs 3:12); “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (13:14).
Who are you being accountable to? And are you giving loving discipline to those accountable to you?