Instructions for Church Unity
Before giving heavy words of correction or discipline, it’s important start with a word of encouragement and affirmation. Paul knew this important principle and, therefore, started his letter with a powerful reminder that though the Corinthians had issues, they were still complete in Christ and firmly held and sustained by the mercy and grace of God.
Discipline is not pleasant, and in the midst of spiritual chastisement, the enemy can easily bring condemnation and discouragement into our hearts and cause us to question our position in Christ. God knows the enemy’s schemes and, thus, inspired Paul to open his letter with this beautiful word of affirmation for the Corinthians.
“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.”
~1 Corinthians 1:4-8
The key word in this passage is grace. Because of the richness of God’s grace the Corinthians were not lacking in anything. In Jesus Christ they were complete and had access to all that they needed to grow as saints. Paul specifically mentions that in Christ the believers “were enriched in all speech and all knowledge.” In a culture that elevated oratory, wisdom, and knowledge to a lofty position, this was an important reminder and encouragement for the Corinthians. As Paul further expounds on later, Christians do not need to and should not blend in with the culture or seek after the things that modern culture considers important and vital.
However, Paul does want the Corinthians to know that while their culture deemed wisdom and intellect of upmost importance, they had already been enriched in both these areas in Jesus. Despite what the believers in Corinthian might have believed, they were not lacking in anything and did not need to pursue the things of the world in order to acquire what is needed for the Christian life. As Paul wrote, “you are not lacking in any gift.”
This is a timely reminder since it is easy for us to also believe the lie that we need to add to the work of Christ to achieve completeness. But the truth is we do not need to do or add anything. Jesus’ work of grace is fully sufficient. In Christ we are not lacking in any gift and have been enriched in all speech and all knowledge. And most importantly, in Christ we are sustained and upheld as we eagerly await our Savior’s return. God will sustain us. He is the faithful One and will uphold us as we wait on Him so that we may be guiltless on the day of Christ’s return.
This is a powerful reminder since this letter is full of correction and discipline. The Corinthians were by no means perfect; however, despite their sins and shortcomings, Paul wanted to remind them that they were secure in Christ. Nevertheless, just because Jesus would sustain them to the end didn’t mean that the Corinthians could continue living as they were. There were things that needed to be changed as a reflection of their redeemed status as saints in the kingdom of God.
Yet the encouragement is here that in the midst of failure and our own shortcomings, God’s grace is sufficient and will sustain us to the end as we wait on our Lord and Savior. Therefore, be encouraged today that while God continues to mold and shape us more into the perfection of His Son and this process often requires revelation of sin and discipline, we are still held firmly in His grasp. So don’t let the voice of the enemy bring condemnation into your heart as you deal with sin or grapple with the things God highlights in your life to fix. The Corinthians had major issues, but the truth remains: in Christ we are complete and sustained by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, take heart and believe this vital truth so that you may walk forward in confidence and victory, with a pliable and humble heart that is open to the admonition of the Lord.