Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
It’s amazing how God’s Word can be broken down passage by passage and retain such knowledge for us in today! This passage in particular shares five commands that God has laid out very simply and clearly for us. They are not to be taken lightly and not to be ignored. I pray you will take each one into consideration and ask yourself how you can become stronger in each area. Let’s start at the beginning.
1. Be on your Guard.
*Stay alert! Paul is letting the Corinthian church know that they need to stay alert for anything that may take them away from what Christ has called them toward. Some things that lead us astray in this day and age are simple. For some it’s addictions as far as the spectrum goes it could be drugs, alcohol, nicotine, then right down to caffeine, having to see the news every night, watching the stock market, attached to the phone, too much time on the internet, food, etc. The guilty pleasures of life lead us away from the time that we should be spending with God. Now I’m not saying that having a cup of coffee in itself is bad or getting on the phone is bad. I’m saying that when anything takes the place of the time we could be spending with God, something needs to change.
*Is there anything in your life that is taking the place of God? Are you spending more time doing other things, than spending time with God? Do you keep coming up with excuses that you don’t have enough time for God? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate where you are spending your time. The only time well spent is time with the Lord. Then the time we spend in other places can be spent well because it is overflowing from the wellspring of Life coming from God. The only way you can stay alert is by staying in the Word and knowing how to be aware of the red flags that appear in life. Pay attention, don’t let life pass by. Take the time you need to take with God!
2. Stand firm in the FAITH.
*Get grounded! Learn how to stand on your own feet. This was so important to me when I left for college. Yes, I had become a Christian at a young age and my parents had taught me many things. I had learned how to be a Christian by things I was taught. They helped me get my roots into the soil. But when I went to college, I needed to stand on my own feet. My roots needed to go deeper into the soil, so my tree could grow even taller. It was difficult at times. In fact, there are still times I want to call my dad for the answers to questions that I have. And he is always willing to listen. But even more than that I need to constantly be in the Word. I cannot stand firm, if my faith does not grow in God. In fact, the other day I was talking to a friend who shared they were crashing and just felt like they needed to run back and read the Bible. You see if you spend time daily in the Bible, those moments of crashing will be fewer. You will be standing on firmer ground and ready to face the days ahead. Don’t spend life waiting for the moments of crisis and than be ready to run back to God. Spend your life daily in the Word and be solid in Him.
3. Be men of courage.
*It takes a lot of courage to live in this world. It takes courage to live for God and consistently live His standards out. We are not to conform to this world because it seems easier. No, we are to be courageous. Even when it means standing outside of the crowd. Swimming upstream when all the other fish are swimming down stream. It means sharing God’s love in tough times and letting people know who Jesus is even when the world around us wants to shut Him out. How will you be courageous this week?
4. Be strong.
*You may be thinking that you don’t have any strength. Maybe you’re living day to day, just putting one foot in front of the other. Let God be your strength. He has promised that in your weakest moments He will be strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). He will lift you up on eagle’s wings (Isaiah 40:31). God has not abandoned you and He certainly will never run out of strength for you!
5. Do everything in love.
*Can you remember the last time you did something for someone else and it came with strings attached to it? That’s not love. Love comes without strings, without guilt, without “I told you so,” without blame, and it always comes with forgiveness. Is there someone that you are holding strings on to, so they will love you a little more? Is there someone you guilt trip, so they will love you? Guilt doesn’t work, it only makes people feel bad. Love people the way Jesus did without strings, without guilt. Most importantly, is there anyone in your life that you need to forgive? If Jesus can go to the cross for the sins of the world and die for them. Don’t you think, you can take the time to forgive the one person who has hurt you? You never know if you have tomorrow, so take today to forgive and love.
Dear Father God, Help me to stand guard in my life at all the things that may want to lead me astray from the time I can be spending with You. Please continue to ground me in Your Word and deepen my faith in You. May I take courage in whom I am in You and find that I never lack strength when I draw from your everlasting well. If there is anyone in my life I need to forgive, please show me and help me to forgive them with all my heart! May I love as You have loved me!
Standing Firm in You,