“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:” (1 Corinthians 1:4–6, AV)
It is not unusual for a church pastor to become frustrated in the ministry. It should not be so, but it often happens. I can attest to this as there were times when things in the ministry were not going as I desired. My countenance was down. Unfortunately, this has a negative affect on the entire congregation. In those times, we often forget to give thanks to God for the church. I have discovered that there are two ways to look at the church. One way is as a glass half-empty and the other as a glass half full.
Granted, there are no perfect churches. Every church is comprised of people, flawed people just like you and me. Moreover, this includes the pastors and staff. Thus, we all have room for growth, and we will always have room for improvement. Just as individual believers are not already perfect and in a process of growth in Christlikeness, the assembly of believers, the church, is in the same process.
Paul here is writing to a church that had problems. He had received reports that certain things were amiss. Yet, is it interesting that he begins this letter by letting the congregation know that he gives thanks for them. If we would have confronted the issues that Paul had to address here, I venture to say that we would probably not be thankful. Paul saw the glass as half full. He saw a silver-lining on every cloud. What did Paul see that we might have missed?
Paul was thankful to God for he saw the way God had provided in everyway for this church. There is a preponderance of verbs in this section that are in the passive voice. These indicate the things that God has done for the church as opposed to the things the congregation has done for itself. Let us quickly look at these great blessings. First, we see that God has given the church His grace by Jesus Christ (v4). Second, by this grace the church was “enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge” (v5). Third, the “testimony of Christ was confirmed” in them (v 6).
He goes on to write of the fact that they did not lack any gift (v7), and that the Lord would establish them as blameless to the end. Finally, Paul gave thanks because God called them into the “fellowship of his Son Jesus” (v9). Paul gave thanks because of God’s provision of grace for the church.
Often in the church, people will start complaining about many things. They complain about the leadership and often the leadership will, in their hearts, complain about the people. They may complain about the lack of numerical growth, their lack of resources, and a variety of things. We need to nip this complaining attitude in the bud and have the attitude of Paul. Let us instead of complaining and criticizing, start praising God and giving Him thanks for the awesome things He has done and is doing in the congregation. When we do, it will change our countenance, and the countenance of the congregation. Most importantly, it will properly give glory to God.