Three Reasons for Thankfulness
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” – 1 Corinthians 16:24
Last Sunday our church closed out three years of studying the book of 1 Corinthians. What a challenging journey for us to see Paul address the many issues and questions the Corinthian Church had. In the spirit of this day of Thanksgiving, I have three things that I am thankful for from the passage (1 Corinthians 16:19-24) of Pastor Mike’s last sermon.
1. Thankful for Paul’s greeting of love to a sinful people.
I am thankful that the Apostle Paul ended his letter, though full of many stern charges and strong words against Corinth, with verse 24,
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” -1 Corinthians 16:24
Through all of the mess going on in Corinth, Paul refuses to end his writing with bitterness, shallowness, or personal discouragement. He ends with hope-filling Christian love.
Paul, could have ended saying one of several things that would have dishonored Christ and elevated himself, but he let Christ shine in his final words.
For example, Paul could have held out his love as a condition saying, “I will send you my love once you start acting in a loving way!” Or, in referring back to 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Paul could have ended with a parting shot that sought to elevate himself above other church leaders. “My love be with all of you who like me more than Apollos and Cephas.”
Though those responses would have certainly made a point, Paul would have never been able to identify his love as the kind that is, “…in Christ Jesus.”
Only a life shaped by Christ will seek true love that his genuine and lays aside the desire for personal gain.
I am thankful for the hope of Paul’s response and his example of Christian love that laid aside his sinful desires and centered his desires on Christ.
2. Thankful for biblical warnings.
It may seem strange to be thankful for words like, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.” – 1 Corinthians 16:22
However, I think we should be thankful for biblical warnings. These warnings are humiliating. The boldest Christian grows weak kneed and trembles at the thought of living a lie and life that is devoid of love for Christ.
Yet, I will give thanks, for if there is any boldness in the Christian life, it is not in ourselves, our piety, our prayer life, our generosity, our emotional state, or our power to will ourselves to love Christ. I would rather be a humiliated saint than a bold Hell-bound Christless sinner. Therefore, I will thank God for warnings which remind me that my only hope is on my knees at the foot of the cross. Thank you Jesus, thank you!
3. Thankful that Our Lord is Coming.
Finally, I am thankful that our Lord is coming as Paul cries out in his final words. I do not know where you readers are in this life. I fear some of you look to Jesus’ return with hesitation thinking, “But I have so much to do in this life still.” Others are full of the pains and trials of life pleading for Jesus to return.
To the first, I would warn you to see Jesus’ return for what it truly is. Every wrong made right at the return of the King. Sin and sinful opposition will be crushed—true and final social justice. The greatest joy and desire of every Christian fulfilled. Your current tiny joys that now fill you with hope but ebb and flow depending on sinful nature will explode when longing is turned to reality. Death to the “already but not yet” struggles in your life. No more, “Why do I do the things that I hate to do?”
To the last, I encourage you to carry on in hope. No pain you endure in this life will hold a candle to the joy of Jesus’ return. Our Lord is coming! He will make all wrongs, right. This is the greatest hope for the saint.
Is he your Lord? Is he your King?
As we close, meditate on these final lines of Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Christ’s return is more desirable than my goods and kindred. To be with Christ is eternal unlike this frail body I currently have. Christ’s return is imminent founded on promises that are unwavering. In Christ, I am already a part of a Kingdom that I am looking to be finally realized in Christ the King’s return.
“A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (last four lines)
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.
Our Lord, come!