I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
By the time we are done reading the book of First Corinthians, most of us have forgotten about this introduction that Paul offers. Through all the sins they are dealing with, all the strife in the body, all the immorality in the Church, Paul still gives thanks for them. He thanks God for the Church in Corinth and longs for their being made clean.
God is faithful
We are told that Jesus will sustain the Church until the last day. Even though these people are still wretched sinners, they will be sustained by Jesus. Jesus will carry them through. So Paul gives thanks for them, not because they are the worthy ones, but because God is faithful and worthy of all praise and he works greatly in their lives and ministries.
We ought to give thanks
With the exception of Romans and Galatians, every time Paul addresses a Church, he begins with giving thanks. Most of these remained jacked up Churches with many of the same issues our Churches have. But the point is this: Jesus died and rose again for the Church. Jesus is cleansing the Church. There is nothing that will change his love for the Church and we must lift the Church up in prayer. This includes praying for the Church as a whole and for individuals within the body- and it begins with thanking God that they are there. We thank God for their salvation. We thank God for growth. We thank God for opportunities to show grace to them (which means we are thanking him, instead of complaining to him when others mess up). We never thank God for evil done to them, but we lift them up in prayer and thanksgiving for the work that will be done in them.
Go and do. And don’t do this:
Image HT: Ben Witherington