To live like a Corinthian was to live a debauched, immoral life. Paul is writing to people who have been saved into a church plant in a decadent society. The first thing he does is to remind them of their identity – made holy in Christ, called to be holy and the church of God. Then he gives thanks to God for them, mentioning the very things they have gone completely nuts on.
It is easy to spot problems; grace spotting requires faith. Paul looked for the fingerprints of God at work in the mess. Looking for the potential not the problems. The problems were party spirit; sexual immorality – they were tolerating someone sleeping with their step-mum; there were lawsuits in the church; marriage problems; idol food parties; submission issues; getting drunk at communion; crazy use of gifts and utterly disorderly worship gatherings.
So, v.4, Paul gives thanks for them…
Thankfulness is a major part of his prayer life – we see it in every letter of Paul’s except Galatians. The ‘Dictionary of Paul and his Letters’ by Ralph Martin et al, states that Paul mentions the subject of thanksgiving in his letters more often, line for line, than any other Hellenistic author, pagan or Christian.
What does he give thanks for?
- Grace, v.4
- Enriched in every way, v.5
- Testimony confirmed – changed lives, signs and wonders, v.6
- Not lacking in spiritual gifts, v.7
- Waiting for Jesus to return, v.7
- That God will sustain them, guiltless and strong, v.8
- God’s faithfulness, v.9
- Fellowship with the Son, v.9.
Paul reminds them, and us, of who we are in Christ, then he gives thanks and lists all the things to be thankful for and then, and only then, does he start to address the first issue. They are splitting over who to follow – the big names of the time.
Our identity and thankful hearts should unite us around Christ, no matter which is our favourite preacher.
Today why don’t you make a long list of things to be thankful for.