The apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians to address various issues and challenges that the church in Corinth was facing. At the very end, he gave a concise and powerful summary – five clear commands, of how Christians should live in a hostile world.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV)
These commands are relevant and applicable for us today, as we face various trials and temptations in our walk with God. Let’s break them down!
Be on your guard
To be on your guard means to be alert and watchful, to be aware of the dangers and enemies that surround us. We are not to be naive or complacent, but to be vigilant and sober-minded. We are to resist the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This can mean different things to different people depending on their unique circumstances. However, the principle is the same: as men we need to be on our guard!
Stand firm in the faith
The second command is to stand firm in the faith. This means to be steadfast and unmovable, to be loyal and faithful to God and His truth.
To stand firm in the faith, we need to trust and obey God, who is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). The more we immerse ourselves in Him, the greater our ability to stand firm in the faith.
The third command is to be courageous. Our faith is not for the timid or cowardly; it makes us strong and courageous. We are not to shrink back or retreat, but to advance and conquer.
Humility and courage equally essential virtues. Why some men think they have to choose between one or the other, is beyond me.
The fourth command is to be strong.
To us to be strong, it boils down to receiving and sharing God’s grace and gifts, which are sufficient and abundant. God’s grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Being strong independently is deceptive. Being strong in Him is the healthiest type of strong!
Do everything in love
The fifth and final command is to do everything in love. This means to act and speak with love, to have love as the motive and goal of all that we do. Ideally, we should be mature enough not to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but to do everything in humility and service (Philippians 2:3-4). But we all fail which is why we have to accept it and not get too discouraged when we do. Repent quickly, pick yourself up and move on.
To do everything in love, we need to abide and grow in God’s love, which is the source and standard of all love.
– Which of these commands do you find most challenging and why?
– How can you apply these commands to your current situation and context?
– How can you help and encourage others to follow these commands?
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President & Founder
Hill Cities, Inc.