“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in everything you are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; so that you come behind in no gift…” 1 Corinthians 1:4-7a
Can you imagine someone being thankful like that for you? Can you imagine having someone in your life that really felt that way? “I thank God always, every day, all the time for you and on your behalf!” Can you imagine someone praying for you like that? I can. But I couldn’t always. What a precious treasure. And what a precious treasure to be the one thankful and praying like that for someone else and what God has done and is doing in them!
There’s more than one way to soak these words in. I can soak them in for myself. And I should. I need to. Because if I don’t understand these truths for myself first, how can I help others to understand? In 2003, I soaked these words in that way. Here’s my meditations:
Thank You, Lord for the grace of God which has been given me by Jesus Christ. You make me thoroughly and wholly wealthy in my speech and thought, my reasoning and motives, in doctrine, my word and works, and in all knowledge, so that the evidence of Christ is established in me and has brought and is bringing results. I shall never lack grace from the moment of my salvation unto the day of the revelation, the full revealing of You, Jesus. (As a thought today, You showed me grace in drawing me to You even before salvation! It was all a part of Your ongoing saving!) You shall establish me unto the end so that I will be without fault when I come to stand before and with You. This is the work You have begun and have promised to finish. I should learn to look to what You are doing in me and what You will do, rather than dwelling on what I have done wrong. Instead of living in regret, I should be living in hope with the comfort of grace. Oh, Lord, give me a true intimate knowledge of Your grace, true understanding of my heart, soul, and mind; not just a book knowledge. I don’t just want to know about grace, I want to know and experience grace. I want to be able to offer the same grace to those whose lives come in contact with me. Help me to utilize and realize the wealth of grace You have given me.
So I soaked these words in for myself. And I started to understand how understanding them, knowing them, experiencing them as a reality in my life, would effect what I have to offer others. See, being a believer, being a Christian, isn’t just about what You do in and for me. It’s about what You do in and for me so that I can by Your light to others. What You do in me is not just relational between You and me, but it’s intended to develop relationships between You and others by me being a channel of You to them.
How grateful am I for the others that are even beginning to listen to You? How grateful am I to see others sit at Your feet for the first time or the “umpteenth” time? Do I thank You, Lord, on their behalf? Because maybe they don’t realize yet what a wonderful thing is beginning. Maybe they are caught up in problems and even as believers, they are forgetting to be thankful and rejoice in You. But what if I remember? What if my remembering reminds them? What if my remembering encourages them because it reminds them of how much You are remembering them and how much You are delighting in them just being Yours?
Those praying for me aren’t praying for me because I’m so perfect. Oh, they know I’m far from that. Some of them know my every failure. But here’s what they are praying for, just like Paul, that You, Lord, are the mighty One step by step having Your glorious way in me! They are thanking You that I am Yours and You are mine and that You are at work in me and evidences show. That’s the grace of God! That’s the grace of God in me! That’s what I must rejoice about in others. You know, I might not even see the evidence sometimes in their lives, but I can pray and thank You, God, on their behalf, because of who You are.
I can and must be thankful that You, God, are the one who enriches each one of us in You and in Your ways. Whether it’s Paul or some new believer who has never even heard of You, You are the One doing the work and enriching us. You enrich us in You in what we speak and share and how we speak and share. You enrich us in knowledge, this true knowledge of You that comes from something deeper than book knowledge, that comes from experiencing You and seeing You manifested in our lives and our time with You and our prayers and our thoughts.
See, it’s all about the testimony of Christ, of You, in us. And here You say that the testimony, or the evidence of You is confirmed in us. And because You are confirming it in us, and others are seeing and being influenced by that confirmation, You are so delighted and just keep on working Your work in us. It brings You pleasure to make us more like You. As You do, we’re not lacking any gifts we need for the work You place ahead of us, for the people You place in our paths, and for the circumstances You place in our lives. I can’t fall short or be deficient because as long as I am trusting in You and obeying and following You, You will never fall short or be deficient and it’s all about Your work in me. I only fall short when I don’t submit because You can never fall short. And this is the work that You are doing in each of us, every one of us who surrenders to You and to Your will in our everyday, moment by moment lives. And we’re called, by example here, to rejoice and encourage one another by remembering the work that You are doing.
There are times when we have to look at ourselves and listen and obey Your voice for our lives and our correction. But we can’t just stay there. Maturity is learning to walk with others, to help them listen and obey Your voice, to rejoice with You in them and their walk with You. Maturity is realizing Your hand not only over my life, but over the lives of those around me. May I, like Paul, learn to always thank You, Lord, for the work of grace that You are doing not only in my life, but in the lives around me. May I ever lift them up before You in prayer and thanksgiving to You. And may that be as encouraging to them as it is to me.