1 Corinthians 16:10-24

A Final Charge.

1 Corinthians 16:10-24

Be on your guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be Strong. And do everything with love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT

As Paul wrapped up his letter to the Corinthian believers, he summarized all that he had said in one simple, memorable, and thoroughly jam-packed sentence. Mixed in with his final greetings, instructions, news, and words of encouragement, Paul provided them one last succinct charge. He warned them to be on their guard. They were facing dangers from within and without. They were attempting to live the Christian life in the midst of a hostile, pagan culture. Many of those pagan influences had found their way into the church itself, brought there by the Corinthian converts to Christianity themselves. Paul warned them to stay alert, like a watchman on the wall, keeping their eyes open to the threats facing the unity of the church. The enemy would love nothing better than to destroy the body of Christ from within – like a cancer, spreading and infecting the entire body until it can no longer function as God intended it to. They were to keep their eyes open for signs of pride, arrogance, jealousy, division, disunity, and self-centeredness masquerading as freedom and rights.

As they watched, they were to stand firm in the faith. They were not to falter or fall. But they had to remember that their spiritual stability had to based on one thing and one thing only – their faith and trust in God. Their hope was to be placed in the gospel message they had received, not on their feeble attempt at self-righteousness. Nothing else would support them in the storms they were facing like the message of salvation in Christ alone through faith alone. Attacks were going to come. False teaching would attempt to rock their world. But they were to be strong and immovable in their faith – trusting God regardless of their circumstances.

Paul also warned them to be courageous. In the original language, he actually told them to “act like men.” Instead of responding to the difficulties of life like immature children, with fear and faithlessness, they were to act like mature men. Paul wanted them to face life boldly, confidently, and courageously. They were not to run and hide. Rather than fear and flight, they were to exhibit faith and fearlessness – even in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. And on top of that, Paul told them to be strong. The interesting thing about his word choice is that it conveyed an on-going action. They were to continually increase in strength. As time wore on, rather than growing weaker, they were to grow stronger. Their faith and confidence would increase as they watched God faithfully work in their midst. Our job is to stand firm, confident in what God can and will do. Then the rest is up to Him. And as we watch Him work, we will increase in strength and our faith will grow.

What’s interesting is Paul’s final words of exhortation. He wraps up all his admonitions about watchfulness, stability, strength and courage with a call to love. “And do everything with love” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT). As Paul so clearly stated earlier in his letter, anything we do as Christians that is devoid of love is little more than wasted effort. To be on guard, stand firm in the faith, and show courage and strength would all be worthless if it was done without love. We have a tendency to take so much of what Paul wrote to the church and apply it to ourselves. We individualize what he meant for the community of faith. Christianity is not a solo sport. This admonition from Paul is for the church corporately, not individually. What good would it do if I stay alert, firm in my faith, courageous and strong, but only think about myself? If I fail to care about those who God has made my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am missing the point. I am to be alert and watchful because I love and care for my fellow believers in Christ. I am watching out for them. I am to stand firm and secure in my faith out of love for those around me, so that when they begin to doubt, they can be encouraged by my faith. I am to be courageous and strong, out of love for those God has placed in my midst. There is no place in the Christian life for self-preservation. We are part of a body. We are to care for and lovingly protect one another. As Paul so eloquently wrote earlier in his letter, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT).

The Christian life is not easy. But the Christian life was also not meant to be lived alone and in isolation. It is a community effort where each person plays a vital role in the well-being of the entire body. Love is what should motivate us. Our mutual care and concern for one another should drive our actions and be the glue that holds our community together – even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.

Father, make us a people of love. Remove our selfishness and self-centeredness. Forgive us for always making it about ourselves. May love permeate all that we do. And may all that we do be done for others, not for ourselves. Give us the same attitude that Christ had – a selfless, sacrificial attitude motivated by love for others rather than love for self. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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