1 Corinthians 16:13-14 – Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.
In the middle of Paul’s final greetings he inserts a short but profound statement of instruction to Christians: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. In these few brief words, Paul states a fitting conclusion for everything he has written to them so far. Paul’s brief words paint a powerful picture for Christians who desire to stand and serve the Savior. Paul’s advice, inspired by God, is especially meaningful for us today as we experience the attack against Christianity. When it comes to our faith we must:
- Stay Alert
The literal translation is watch, to pay careful attention, it is a one-word imperative. In the context of all that Paul has told them to do, his final word of caution is to be spiritually on guard. The church in Corinth had a host of problems from spiritual immaturity and misunderstanding to a tolerance of sin. This led to division and factions in the church, causing arguments and strife that weakened and threatened to destroy it. This lead to relation retaliation as Christians sued other Christians in civil court, the ruin of relationships as people living in sexual sin, gluttony and drunkenness and righteous relationships as people took pride in their spiritual gifts. Paul reminded them to be on their guard spiritually because he did not want them to treat merely the symptoms, but to cure the cause. He wanted them to wake up and pay attention to their spiritual lives, to be spiritually watchful instead of spiritually ignorant. The Corinthians were caught up in their devotion to a culture of competing philosophies instead of the firm foundation of faith, devotion to the one true God, as opposed to the spiritual pluralism that was socially acceptable. Their apathy and lack of spiritual watchfulness was the foundation of the Corinthian church’s sinful condition. Spiritual indifference and spiritual ignorance were the root of relational problems in Corinth. Jesus did not save us from sin only to slumber and snore, it is not enough to merely know the facts we need to know the Father. Being spiritually aware means seeing the Savior, His care, protection and love for us His children. Today the church is stumbling around asleep and unless this simple one-word instruction is followed, everything Paul has taught will have no effect. Will we follow Paul’s advice and have hearts that are awake and alert? Today are you spiritually aware? In a whirling world of worry, filled with the terrible tornados of turmoil have you internalized the spiritual truths about God’s care and protection? Do you remember and recall His promises in the face of uncertainty?
- Stand fast
The call for the church at Corinth and for Christians today is to stand fast, to persevere, and to not deviate in their faith and trust. As Paul tells them to stand firm in the truth he is reminding them of the Redeemer and everything that has been revealed. The call is to stand firm in all that Christ is and all that He represents. Like the Corinthians 2000 years later we live in a culture in which truth is regarded as relative. Our society scoffs at the concept of objective, unyielding spiritual truth, so we live in a day dedicated to spiritual and ethical pluralism. Today we worry that the world is worse, yet as we look back time has moved technology but truth, like the tide, just ebbs and flows. The same environment that existed in the Corinthian culture can creep in when we accept social teaching over spiritual truth. Today we must stand fast against the social storm of stupidity that rages all around us. This world like a magician cloaks its agenda with the tricks of tolerance and progressive thinking. Today we call sin a choice yet we choke anyone who does not agree, this is not choice it’s a charade. We celebrate tolerance for sin but when it comes to the Savior the agenda has not changed, the world still chants crucify. Don’t be fooled by the mists and magic of our modern world it only offers one choice, comply or die. We talk about progressive thinking believing we can move man forward using technology instead of truth. We believe that if we relabeled the can we change its contents, this isn’t progressive its pride. If man can save himself then where is the proof? Today instead of proof we have more problems. Today the tide has not turned its just come in a little further and like a soldier facing the onslaught we are called to stand fast. We many get bruise but we will not break, because sin cannot sink the ship of salvation. Yet instead of contending for the faith the world observes us fumbling as we fighting ourselves. Sometimes it seems that the gospel message of salvation, a relationship with God, is secondary to the desire to win doctrinal debates. Today we are tempted to trust in technology but its truth that triumphs. If we are to be the witnesses God wants us to be then we must follow Paul’s admonition to stand firm in the faith. Are you standing or succumbing in the struggle?