I think you will agree that this is a rather astounding prayer when you consider that the church in Corinth was disrupted by numerous sins—immorality, murmurings, and disunity.
First, let’s learn to thank God for the saints. Putting aside their strengths and weaknesses Paul was thankful to God for these people. Paul loved the church of Christ and he thanked God often for it. In many epistles he demonstrates his gratitude toward the Lord for his church. In this Paul sets us an example: “Be ye followers of me.” When was the last time you thanked God for those you worship with each Sunday? When was the last time you praised God for their strengths and petitioned Him for their weaknesses?
Second, let’s learn that our love for the saints must not be lessened on account of their weakness or folly. Paul says, “I thank my God always on your behalf.” The word always is very significant when you call to mind the attendant circumstances. There had been various changes in the Corinthian assembly during the apostle’s absence, and none of the changes was for the better. Yet their sin or folly never lessened Paul’s affection for this body.
No doubt the reports he heard of conceit, carnality, and confusion dampened his joy, but never did they chill his love. How easy would it have been for Paul to get frustrated at them and chide them. But his spirit for them remained constant even though their growth in grace had not. May God grant us the same spirit toward one another in the church of Christ.
“Though Christ’s image can be only faintly detected in His babes, yet if we see it at all, we have the infallible assurance that He who has begun a good work in them will assuredly complete the same.” —A. W. Pink