“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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 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.“(1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ESV)
Paul gives thanks for the Corinthians, and this surprises me a little bit. I mean, when you read the rest of his letter, it sounds like these people were a real headache for him! There are divisions in the church, people trying to pit one leader against another, sexual sin, and people getting drunk at Communion meals! And yet, Paul can still give thanks for them. How?
He tells us: “Because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” Messed up as the Corinthians are, still, they are believers in Jesus, and their sins are covered because Jesus gave Himself for them on the cross. Even more, Jesus rose from the dead for their sakes; and so He is able to sustain them and bring them back to the right way, again and again, as many times as necessary. As Paul says, Jesus will “sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the meantime, what? Paul will be correcting these people again and again, with all the patience he can find in the Holy Spirit’s mercy, because he loves them. They may be a headache, but they are his headache, his beloved people, and he won’t give up on them—because Jesus won’t give up on them.
This comforts me! If God won’t give up on the Corinthians, I have good reason to think He won’t give up on me. And He won’t give up on you, either, no matter what you have done or what mistakes you have made. You are beloved. Jesus has made you His own through His death and resurrection. His grace is stronger than all your sin. And no matter what messes you get into, the Holy Spirit will be there, calling you back, so that you, too, will be found clean and blameless on the day when Jesus returns—not by your own doing, but by His.
We pray: Dear Lord, keep bringing me back to You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on November 29, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights
1. How do you feel when problems break out in your own congregation?
2. Compared to the Corinthians, would you say your own church is more or less outrageous?
3. How can you find the love and patience you need to continue to love and care for others in your church?