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 1:4–9 —
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he begins by observing evidences of God’s grace (1:4). This astounds us because of how easily Paul could have fixated on their immaturity and iniquity rather than their position in Christ—after all the church was divided, disorderly, and dangerously lax towards sin. For most of us, it would have been difficult to get past Corinth’s glaring sins to commend the grace of God in their midst.
And yet, in his opening verses, he looks below the surface and praises God for the grace he sees in the Corinthians. How did he do that? How might we do that? When we encounter other believers whose sin stains their lives, how can we find evidences of grace?
In my Sunday’s sermon, I argued that grace looks back to see the work of Christ in a believer’s life; it looks in to see the ongoing work of Christ; and it looks forward to the day when a believer—however immature now—will be made complete in the day of Jesus Christ. This is how Paul saw grace in the Corinthians: he remembered how the gospel (i.e., the testimony of Christ) brought spiritual life to them (vv. 5–6); he saw an abundant supply of spiritual gifts in them (v. 7) ; and he trusted that God who began a good work in them would complete it on the day of Christ Jesus (v. 8; cf. Philippians 1:6). There is much we can learn and apply from Paul’s observance of grace in the Corinthians. But how? Continue reading