1 Corinthians 16:13-14 – “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.”
Not only does Paul call us to Show up but also to:
- Be strong
This literally is translated be strengthened, if we are to be strong for God we must be strong in God. It is in the passive voice, as opposed to the first three admonitions of the passage. When Paul tells his readers to be on guard, to stand firm, and to be people of courage, he is telling them things they are to do. When he tells them to be strong, however, he is referring to a willingness to allow God to strengthen them, something God does to them in them and for them, not something they can do for themselves. The instruction is to submit to the strengthening power and work of our Savior, being strong for His cause and one another starts with submission to the supremacy of the Savior. In Ephesians 6:10 we are called to “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” The strength He gives us enables us to stand firm in His spiritual truth and to courageously confront our culture with care. For us in a 21st century culture, faced with spiritual pluralism, we must stand firm in spiritual truths as we apply them with courage. Our part is to be on guard, to recognize and know what is spiritually right and wrong, and to act with courage. God’s part is to strengthen us.
Paul’s call to battle now takes a strange turn, “And do everything with love.” We are to war in such a way that God is glorified, believers are inspired, Satan is terrified, and people are loved. We are to be steadfast and immovable because we are working for God, on behalf of His kingdom for the benefit of others. What moves and motivates us is not a desire to win the war, Christ has already done that, but to witness to the world. We should let our love for God and others be the motive that moves us to sacrifice in this war. Love may seem like an impotent way but it’s what Paul calls the more excellent way in I Corinthians 12:31, because love wins the lost. Paul reminds us that the sum of all the commandments towards God and towards our neighbor is love. Any service rendered as a soldier of Christ void of love is a violation. Christ came not to conquer mankind but to call them to Himself and He did that through love, serving, sacrificial love. As a soldier you are called to stand up, show up, suck it up and sacrificially serve. So, no matter where in this world you sit right now as you read this my challenge to you is today will you stand with me strong in the Savior?