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Message of the Day: An Appeal To People’s Better Selves

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge…” (1 Corinthians 1:4-5, NKJV)

Even in the church in Corinth, Paul finds something to thank God for. He allowed his general attitude concerning the Corinthians to override the specific causes of irritation. He will later spend most of this epistle dealing with specific problems in the Corinthian church.

Thanksgiving were common in letters. As in speeches, letters might open with an introduction praising the reader, which was also designed to secure the reader’s favor for the rest of the letter. Opening sections of letters commonly introduced some of the themes that would recur throughout the letter.

The Corinthian Christians may be in a sad spiritual condition, but Paul addresses them as God’s holy people. He thanks God for the Corinthians because they are God’s people. They are sanctified in Christ Jesus, having a holy standing before God because of what Christ has done for them. Paul now wants to instruct them so that they might live as God’s holy people.

Through the grace of God, the Corinthian Christians have been specially enriched in such gift as knowledge and speech, enabling them to understand and explain the truth. “Speech” and “knowledge” were important to the Corinthians. They had come to excel in these particular gifts precisely because these mattered most to them in their culture.

The Corinthians are not lacking in any spiritual gift. They have plenty of ability, but they must allow God to control it, if they want to be blameless when they stand before Christ.

Those of us who feel called or who assume the responsibility of dealing with problems and correcting errors should follow Paul’s example. A willingness to commend those who do well is as much in accordance with the gospel, as a disposition to reprove where it is deserve. By putting the causes for praise and commendation before proceeding to the reproof, we appeal to a person’s better self instead of discouraging him.

Whatever problems and shortcoming we may have, we should remind ourselves that we possess some really impressive character and abilities given to us by God. We should remind ourselves as well, that everything good we have from God has come to us by grace. They are freely given to us by God’s own reason and purposes.

Sources:

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Fee, Gordon D. & Stuart, Douglas. How to Read the Bible Book by Book. A Guided Tour. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2004.

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