“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” — 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
As I opened up my Bible app and read the verse of the day recently, I was encouraged by Paul’s advice. In the final chapter of 1 Corinthians, he shares this: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
I’ve always appreciated a simple sermon outline. Too many times in my life I have tried to complicate things, even the Gospel. So I appreciate Paul’s concise bursts of encouragement and challenges to his audience in these two verses. Let’s take a closer look.
Be on guard. I can’t help but initially think of a security guard working the midnight shift to keep the bank secure. Or a security guard hired by a church or school who makes his rounds around the campus. To guard means to watch over in order to protect. God wants us to guard or protect our lives. We must be aware that the enemy, the devil, wants to destroy our lives. His mission is to destroy our marriages, our families, our relationships. He wants to damage our testimony, reputation and character. It is imperative for us as believers to guard ourselves. We must guard our eyes in what we see. We must guard our ears in what we hear. We must guard our mouth in what we say. We must guard our feet in where we go. Be on guard!
Stand firm. God wants us to place our confidence in Him, not ourselves. Standing firm is trusting in Him, not wavering in our faith but having complete confidence in a God who loves us and wants the very best for us. Too many times we say, “God, show me and I’ll trust You.” God says, “Trust Me and I’ll show you.”
Be courageous and strong. There’s no doubt we will experience fear in our lives. But God wants us to place faith over fear. I remember reading this quote: “Fear can be a speed bump, but don’t let it be a stop sign.” Numerous times in the Old Testament, God commanded Joshua to be strong. Have courage. Don’t be afraid. Joshua was scared. He was afraid. He had big shoes to fill. God commissioned him to succeed Moses and lead the Israelites to the Promised Land. God wants to give us that same courage.
Do everything in love. As Paul closes with these quick encouragements, he reminds us of this final thought: Do everything in love. True love has no agenda. It is unconditional; there are no strings attached. It’s always about others. I know for me how easy it is to “water down” my definition of love. I easily turn it into a casual description of my favorite sports team, food or restaurant. As I pause and reflect on what true love is, I am grateful for God’s amazing love that involved the ultimate sacrifice of His only Son dying on the cross for me and you. Wow! That’s love.
Prayer: “Dear God, please protect me and may I be on guard. Give me Your strength and courage to live for You. May I stand firm in my faith and love others as You have loved me.”
— Jim Good
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