November 23, 2019
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 1:4
I thank my God always for you, because of God’s grace that was given to you in Christ Jesus.
Thought for the Day: Is Paul suggesting that he gives thanks for these other human beings because of God’s grace given to them? Is that a prerequisite for gratitude to God? Do I need some sort of confirmation of God’s grace residing within someone before I can say, “Thank you, God, for this person”? I do not believe that was Paul’s intention, but at first glance, it sure appears that way. Have you ever wanted to say something and before it actually came out of your mouth, you thought, “Wow! This is going to be brilliant!” And then once it actually formed in words and in a sentence structure, you had to step back and say, “Wow! That sure wasn’t as brilliant as I thought it might be.” Paul wasn’t speaking, but writing without an eraser or the capacity to hit the delete key. Now there are some who would claim that Paul was writing word for word what God was putting into his mind. That’s not my concept of scripture, and even language like inspired does not mean without error or even without the potential for confusion. I believe Paul was inspired, awe-struck by the grace of God that he encountered in Jesus. He was a changed human being, but he was still full of mistakes. In Romans 7, Paul writes: “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Now I can’t even begin to guess how a first century reader understood the words from 1st Corinthians, specifically in their original Greek. It might have been crystal clear, but for me, I find its imperfection to be refreshing. I think Paul would have been thankful for them simply because they were created in the image of God; because Jesus loved everyone; because of the grace that filled Paul’s heart. If given the chance to clarify, he might have rolled his eyes and said, “Of course I give thanks for them and every human being!” I sure wish we had the capacity to ask Paul for some clarification, but without it, I have to trust and read into scripture the fullness of God’s grace that manifests itself in a love that is relentless and reckless in its capacity to embrace all of creation. And so in this case, I give Paul the benefit of the doubt.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt, especially in those moments when my intentions were good but I clearly did not communicate what I desired to communicate. May I show such grace to others. Amen.
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Rev. Bruce Frogge