This week’s verse finds me on track 7 of Seeds Family Worship’s album The Character of God. The song is called “God is Faithful.” The song uses 1 Corinthians 1:8 and 9, but the fact that verse 8 is the end of a very long sentence and the song puts it after verse 9 was kind of driving me batty (why yes, I did major in English- how did you guess?) and left me in a pickle. Don’t get me wrong; I love the song! I’m going to focus more on verse 9, but I don’t want to overlook the ideas in verse 8 (which actually begin in verse 4). So for fun, here is the entire passage:
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Verses 4-8 tell us some basics. Paul is about to address some division among the Corinthians, but he gives them some encouraging reminders first. These reminders can be helpful to us, too, as we focus on the faithfulness of God.
Real quick, Paul is saying these things: God gives grace to his people through Christ, which in turn strengthens us in speech and knowledge and gives us spiritual gifts, and in all of this work God is doing in us he enables us to live a life of hope and expectation of Christ’s return. Oh, and he takes away our sins– I don’t want to forget that!
Verse 9 tells us why God does this (or one reason): he is faithful.
As I focus on this verse a couple of things stick out to me. The first one is how God shows his faithfulness, or how we know he is faithful. With Paul’s sentence structure being what it is, I find it helpful to read each of his sentences multiple times, rearranging the parts so they make sense to me. Otherwise I get a little lost, and sometimes I miss the most important ideas. I don’t think I’m alone in this! On my first reading of verse 9 I’m inclined to see “God is faithful” as the point, remember it, and skim everything else as just words as I move along to find the next point. But when I do my rereading and rearranging I find even more depth to the idea: God, who called us into the fellowship of Jesus Christ, is faithful.
God is faithful to do the work in us that Paul describes in verses 4-8: giving us grace, enriching us in speech and knowledge and spiritual gifts so that we can give testimony to who Jesus Christ is, helping us to wait in hope for the day of Christ, and sustaining us until the end when we will appear guiltless before our Lord when he comes in judgment. Whew, that is a lot!
But there’s more: God’s faithfulness is also displayed in his bringing us into the fellowship of Jesus Christ. This is huge. I often think of fellowship as being around other believers and having conversations together, maybe over coffee or food, talking about the Bible, giving encouragement, and/or praying. But I don’t think that’s the kind of fellowship Paul means here. Our fellowship with Christ is more than having some coffee and talking about our day; this kind of fellowship is a connection. This is the kind of fellowship that comes from being made children of God, and therefore co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). This is a huge, gracious gift from our God, who we know is faithful if we will look back over his history. From the Garden of Eden to the Ark, from the burning bush to the Exodus, from the entrance into the Promised Land to the judges and kings and prophets, from the life and sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, to the disciples and the spread of the Gospel, to us right now… God is faithful. We can look back and know that God will be faithful to the end. It is his nature and character.
The second thing that sticks out to me is more of where this verse causes my mind to go, which is a little outside the direct context of the verse. If God is faithful, he must be trustworthy. If he has given fellowship with Christ and is sustaining me until the end, then it must be worth my while to let him do his work. I can look back at God’s history in the Bible and see his faithfulness, but I can also look back at my own life to see it. Since God’s character is consistent, then he can be trusted. So the lesson that sticks out to me from this verse today is that I can look at the uncertainty in my life now and remember that someday I will look back at this time in my life and be able to point to what God was doing. And if that is the case, I should not worry about what may or may not happen. I will know eventually, but I can’t know right now. I only know what I know- no more.
So with the information I have, not striving for what cannot be found, will I choose to strive for what I already know is mine– fellowship with Christ Jesus my Lord? I want to. My own thoughts, plans, and worries get in the way, but when I put God’s Word into my mind and heart it helps me remember what is true and what matters most. It’s my prayer that this Word in my heart will bring me into deeper fellowship with the One who changes me and sustains me to the end, who enriches my life to give testimony to his grace and, of course, his faithfulness.
What are your thoughts on this passage and God’s faithfulness?
Bonus: I also thought of this beautiful song by Matt Redman, especially the part that says, “You are faithful/God, you are faithful.” It is already competing with “God is Faithful” for space in my brain. 😉 They’re both welcome, of course. Listen to “Never Once” here.
Annnnnnd, I found a really nice graphic to go along with my verse. Enjoy!