Let us pray: Dear Savior, when You speak the truth to us, You always do it in love. Sometimes it is soft, easy love, sometimes it is hard, tough love. However, You always have our best interests, the interests of our souls in mind. So, cause us to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Your loving truths so that we may be blest. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO HANDS OUT TRUE LOVE TO ALL SINNERS IN NEED OF IT!
TEXT: I Corinthians 1: 1-9
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
When was the last time you actually wrote a letter to another person? Not a text, not a spur-of-the-moment email, but a genuine letter?— A missive that you took time to compose which reflected your deepest thoughts and feelings for that individual. When my sisters and I were cleaning out my mother’s house, we found something quite amazing on her desk. My sister, Karen, had celebrated her birthday shortly before my mother’s stroke. As was her custom, my mother sent a card with a lengthy message to her on her special day. Well, on her desk, my mother had a rough draft written out of that message with various corrections upon it. To think of the time she spent in sending her daughter a love letter was quite moving. Seeing it in that familiar handwriting brought tears to all of our eyes. Yes, for her, every letter to her children was a love letter worthy of time and thought and energy. She made every single word count.
God’s Word is no different. Every word counts. Every word was carefully thought out before it was penned. We often send quick emails and later regret what we said or how we said it. Not so with any of Scripture! And today we’re treated to such a letter, written originally to the Christians in Corinth, but actually written to you and me, too. So, let’s examine:
ST. PAUL’S LOVE LETTER TO YOU
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.” Why the formality? Everyone knew who Paul was and the story of his conversion by Christ on the road to Damascus. Why recount those trappings of his office here? Well, Paul’s apostleship was really the only reason for him to send this love letter. Being God’s mouthpiece was also the only reason for them to pay attention to his words. What he was doing was “God’s will.” And Sosthenes? Well, they knew him, too, and apparently he not only sent greetings to them in the Lord, but perhaps carried this love letter and hand delivered it to that church. Yes, Paul planned everything in advance.
“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere (you and me today) who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.” This was a personal letter to the Corinthians which was also meant to be shared with Christians for all time. It was meant to be read by sinners made holy, sanctified, changed by the power of God’s eternal Son. Every believer is called to that holy status by God. And Paul writes to them and to us in God’s name—God is speaking here.
And what is God’s message to them and us? “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” What a glorious message! There is nothing finer, nobler, or more uplifting to say to anyone. In the original Greek language that Paul used, there is no written verb here, it is simply understood. Grace has verbal force. Peace is born of grace. God’s grace creates peace of soul inside hurting sinners. It calms and uplifts troubled hearts. Grace and peace aren’t merely “things” they are the very power of God and give that they say.
Do we write our letters this way today? Rarely at best. What a beginning to this love letter! Let’s read on.
“I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.” He always thanks God for us here today. Amazing. Paul didn’t even know we would live in America, have children, or be married. And yet, he intimately knew the power of God’s forgiving love in Christ and he knew that it would bear fruit, souls like us, until the end of time. He’s thankful to God for that fact. He’s also thankful that our language and our lives would reflect that ageless truth. Yes, God’s love and His wisdom are confirmed in you being here today. If this isn’t a timeless letter, nothing is!
“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” The Corinthians had it all. Maybe they weren’t as rich as the Athenians, or as physically strong as the Spartans. No matter. They did not lack for any spiritual gift. They possessed boundless love for others—both the soft and the tough kind—and used it when needed. They possessed joy and happiness over God’s gift of life to them. Every day was worth getting up because God was in charge. No worry here. They possessed peace of soul and patience in dealing with the ups and downs of life. Who doesn’t have bad stuff come their way? And yet, they knew God would see them through it all. They possessed kindness and goodness when it came to dealing with others. They didn’t have hidden agendas born of selfish pride. They possessed faithfulness and gentleness, too. Their word was their bond. Their caring attitude for hurting souls needing salvation curbed their sharp tongues and thoughtless words. They possessed self-control which prevented them from stepping into the quagmire of excess and getting dragged down by it. All these gifts came to them from Christ, their Brother and ours, Who died to save our souls and make our lives meaningful. All these gifts enabled them and us to wait in eager expectation, every day, for the ultimate journey of a lifetime into glory.
And lest you worry whether you have the stamina and staying power not to cave during the 4th quarter of your life, Paul adds this to his love letter. “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
Is Jesus Christ strong? Well, He is the eternal Son of God Who created the universe. And He is the Conqueror of death by His resurrection. What more proof of His strength do you need? Right here, Paul promises that that very same Jesus will keep you, me, and the Corinthians strong and blameless in His sight (think forgiveness here) right up until Judgment Day. We don’t have to worry that Satan will hurl a “Hail Mary” pass and turn us into losers. For Christ is the ultimate Winner! And God the Father, Who tapped you on your shoulder and put you on His team when you were baptized, that God is faithful to His word and will never let you down!
Well, that’s the beginning of St. Paul’s love letter to you. As you inwardly digest it during this upcoming week just remember: It doesn’t get any better than this! Amen