I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4).
There is a theological point to make from this verse, because Paul is thanking God for his grace to believers. As he does continually in his letters, Paul is reminding the saints at Corinth that their faith, and their faithfulness, is by God’s grace and through Jesus Christ.
Yet there is also a personal point not to be missed in this passage: Paul is thanking God for the saints at Corinth. And his gratefulness for genuine believers extends beyond just that church, as he has already in verse 2 included everyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ as Lord.
Paul is thankful for every recipient of God’s sovereign grace!
Paul’s passion was not to make little Pauls, but to make disciples of Jesus.
Paul is not just thankful for the ones that come from his background, or the ones that agree with him, or the ones that are most holy and mature.
Paul’s passion was not to make little Pauls, but to make disciples of Jesus; so he was able to truly say, from his heart, that he was thankful for every believer in Jesus Christ — even though the very ones he is writing to in Corinth have messy problems and major maturity issues.
What is your attitude toward other believers in Jesus Christ? Do they have to agree with you, or reach a certain level of maturity, or come from a certain background for you to joyfully thank God for them?
We also need to grow and mature, and we also have some messy problems and maturity issues.
Of course we are not happy for sin that we see in the lives of others; and of course we should desire to point others to greater knowledge of Christ and greater pursuit of Christ-likeness. But we should be genuinely thankful for every other believer in Jesus Christ, even though some are in less-than-ideal situations. Because of course the truth is that we also need to grow and mature, and we also have some messy problems and maturity issues.
With all the troubles and strife within the Corinthian body, still Paul calls it the church of God; and Paul says he is thankful to God for his grace in their lives!