Verse four of Chapter one gives praise to God for the community at Corinth. Paul is actually appreciative of the people there. He also gives praise to God for all the graces He has given to the people of Corinth. Gratitude is such an important part of the Christian life. Without stopping and reflecting on the gifts God has given us, life would be too much to bear. Paul is thankful of the very people that are causing such heartache for him.
This should make us stop and think about the people in our lives. Do we appreciate the people God has given us? Do we always look at the bad? When was the last time we thanked somebody for something they did for us or a loved one? Do we respond with kindness? Are we ourselves doing something for someone so that they can be thankful? Have you given anybody reason to have a thankful heart? Even if others are not good to us, we should still be kind to them. Paul had some correcting to do, but that did not keep him from showing his affection to his people.
Paul also gives words of encouragement: “He will strengthen you to the end…” (v8). So many times, we need that encouragement. Hopefully we pass it along to others who may need it just as much, if not more than we do. But this hope is not just to win the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup. It is a hope for something much greater. It is a hope to be found blameless of sin and enter into the heavenly banquet. We can take courage in knowing that the heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son so that we may have such an opportunity (v9). God is faithful and consistent. He does not give up on us. He is always there, ready to bring us back to Himself.
Then Paul goes into his concerns for the community. He is speaking as a priest. He knows that many might be embarrassed and some may be defensive, but he knows he has to address the issues. That is why he begins with words of encouragement. They need to be strengthened before being put to the test. Paul needs to let them know there are good things he sees before addressing the bad. He does not want them to be spiritually deflated, but motivated to do good. Yet some need to be admonished more than others.
Paul’s approach is for the unity of the Church. This is so important back then and today. Many people preferred one minister over another. That is fine, but not to the neglect of the other. Everybody has a different personality and there is no exception with that among priests, bishops and popes. Evidently some people preferred Peter (Cephas), some Apollos and others Paul. They were creating factions amongst themselves. Some even thought there were competitions between the three. Historically, there was no real competition. This also happens today. We are under one faith, one Church, one baptism and one Lord of all. This Lord is none other than Jesus Himself and we are all merely His servants. Yes, the Catholic Church is one, in imitation of the one God in three persons. It is this one and true God that binds us together in faith and love. We have each other in faith. Praise God!