Recently my seven grandchildren were at our house and made a mess. But it was a beautiful mess. I made them clean the mess up. But I would rather have a mess with them then a perfect life without them.
I think that’s the way God feels about us. We can sure make a mess of our life. But because God loves us, He still loves us and wants to help us clean up our mess. He doesn’t want us to make a mess of our lives. But He would rather have our mess than not have us.
I get that feeling when I read the opening lines of 1 Corinthians. The one fact that most Christians know about the Corinthian Church is that it was a mess – full of problems, sins, division, heresy.
But in his opening words, Paul says of them, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Paul calls them “sanctified saints”. These people were definitely not saintly. Their behavior seemed to be more like devils than saints. So what did Paul mean?
The Corinthians were not saints by themselves. They were ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus.’ Because they surrendered their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior, they belonged to Him. That is what sanctified really means – set apart. They were saints in their position with God, not necessarily in their behavior. Paul would spend the rest of his letter helping them get their practice in line with their position.
And then Paul adds….
“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4).
Why was Paul thankful ‘on behalf’ of the Corinthian church? I think he was thankful because it caused Him to be thankful about God. Even with their messy behavior, Paul could be thankful for what God is. You can also be thankful for who God is.
“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4)
Like the Corinthians, if you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have been saved by grace through faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it isthe gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God’s grace is offered as a gift and must be received. Forgiveness is available for all who receive it.
God’s grace brings you into God’s family and God’s grace keeps you in His family. If you believe and receive Jesus as Savior you are a saint – set apart and a possession of God. But you may not behave very saintly.
It is hard for those of us who wrestle with sin, who give in to temptation over and over gain, to think of ourselves as a pure and holy saint – especially in the eyes of a holy God. But that’s the amazing thing about God’s grace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, you are clothed in His righteousness. When God looks at you, He sees the pure, spotless righteousness of Jesus.
So… Focus on God’s grace rather than your faults.
“…waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ephesians 1:7-9)
Paul advances through to the end of life and explains that when the Corinthians stand before God, they will be blameless. Why? Because God is faithful. What He starts He will finish.
“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (Philippians 1:6)
Since God is faithful, you don’t have to be worried about losing it or it being taken away. God is faithful.
Focus on God’s faithfulness rather than your frailty.
God will see you through your mess. In Heaven we will not be innocent, but we will be blameless. We are not holding on to Jesus. He is holding on to us. He is faithful even when we are weak.
To God, you are beautiful. Because of God’s grace and faithfulness, you are a “sanctified saint.” Now it is your responsibility to live like it.
If your life is a mess, give it to God. He will make a beautiful masterpiece.