This morning my reading included 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 "Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love."
I have always loved this verse but today it caught my attention and caused me to pause and just ponder the full meaning of it. So I thought I'd share my thoughts. There are many things in this verse that Paul is telling us to do.
First, he tells us to be on guard. Why would we need to be on guard. A guard is someone who watches for approaching evil or trouble and protects something of value. So if I am to be on guard, what I find of most value is my faith. So I would take this to mean that I would need to be watching for for spiritual enemies. Whether it is false teaching or or things that creep in to produce pride or sin in my life, I need to be watchful so that I can see it coming and protect my heart and faith before it can cause any problems.
The next thing he tells us is to stand firm in our faith. There is but one truth and that truth is Jesus Christ. He died and he rose again and he offers salvation to all who will believe. I stand firm on that and that truth transforms my life so that I might look more like Him who saved me.
He tells us to have courage. Why would I need courage? I would need courage not only to withstand the enemy and stand firm in my faith but we are called to go out and make disciples. Friends, to go out, share your faith and disciple people to grow and be transformed takes courage. To be in a body of believers and do life with one another openly and honestly takes courage.
He tells us to be strong. Notice he tells us to have courage and then tells us to be strong. They're not the same instruction, they're actually separate. Ephesians 6:10 says "be strong in the Lord and His mighty power". We are to invite Holy Spirit to fill us. Holy Spirit encourages us, convicts us and strengthens us with power. We are to be strong with the strength given to us by Holy Spirit.
And finally Paul tells us to do everything in love. And why would he end with that? Because it's all about our motivation. Without love, we are clanging cymbals. Without love, our motivation is wrong and pride has entered our heart. Without love, we have nothing. God is love. And if we live wonderful and good lives and have not done them in the love of Christ, it's meaningless. Our motivation means everything.
As I go through my life, I make mistakes and sometimes get off track. We all do. But we can quickly make a course correction and go back to what we know. And what we know is the love of Christ. The Way, The Truth, And The Life. He will always be faithful to strengthen us, love us, and transform us.
So today, remember to be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be a person of courage, be strong and do EVERYTHING in love.
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