1 Corinthians 1:4 (NIV)
4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
Today we begin our look at 1 Corinthians, a letter that Paul wrote around 55AD to the church he started in the city of Corinth. Corinth was a lot like Vancouver in many respects. For example:
- It was the third largest city in the Roman empire after Rome and Alexandria (just as Vancouver is the third largest population centre in Canada after Toronto and Montreal).
- It was a city whose strategic location by the sea made it a commercial centre and a hub for trade and tourism.
- It was a city with a huge immigrant population. As more people from various nations and ethnic groups moved their families to Corinth, Corinth was a pluralistic society where many different cultures and religions co-existed.
- It was also a city full of idolatry and sexual immorality. Ancient Corinth has been described as a New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas all rolled into one.
Seeing Corinth as a place in need of Jesus, Paul started a church in Corinth. While the church was growing, the church also experienced serious problems. So Paul's purpose in writing 1 Corinthians was to address some of the problems in the church.
Despite being surrounded by problems, notice how Paul begins his letter. Rather than beginning with complaining or criticism, Paul begins with thanksgiving. No matter how frustrated Paul was at some of the problems and people in his church, he starts by saying, "I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus" (v4). Paul began by focusing on the good.
That's a great lesson for us too. No matter how many problems you have, like Paul choose an attitude of gratitude. For as long as we live on earth, there will always be good things AND bad things going on at the same time - things to be thankful for alongside things that frustrate us; things to celebrate alongside things that aggravate us. The question is: what will you focus on?
If all you focus on are the problems, you will be depressed and others will get depressed being around you. But if you choose an attitude of gratitude and focus on the good, it will keep you afloat and help you to enjoy life even when certain problems make you want to sink. It will keep you centered around what's most important and will help you be clear-minded in tackling the challenges in your face.
Like Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Are you surrounded by problems today? Choose an attitude of gratitude. What can you give thanks to God for today?