In a lot of Paul’s letters to the churches, he starts off slow and then hits the fast forward button in the last chapter. It’s like he knows he needs to wrap up the letter, but has so much more to say. In those moments in his letters, there’s a lot of truth compacted. One of my favorites comes from I Corinthians 16:13-14. He wrote, “Be on guard. Stand firm. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything in love” (NLT). There’s so much good stuff packed into those two verses.
First, he warns us to be on guard. He knows there is an enemy out there looking to mess you up, so he can destroy your testimony and your work for God. I Peter 5:8 puts it this way, “Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” We can never forget that there is an enemy who is out to prevent you from doing the work God called you to. Be on guard.
Next he says to stand firm. In Ephesians 6:11 he goes into deeper discussion about what he meant. He wrote, “Put on God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil” (NLT). The enemy comes in like a flood to knock you down, but by the power of God, you have the ability to stand firm when you are under attack. Utilize the armor that God gives us to defeat the enemy.
The next two go hand in hand. He wants us to be courageous and strong. Winston Churchill said, “Courage is the foremost of all the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.” You can’t stand up to the enemy unless you have courage. David had it when he fought Goliath. Jesus had it as He carried the cross to Calvary. You and I can have it and we can be strong in our faith. Acts 1:8 says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (NLT). You can have God-given power to be courageous.
Finally, he tells us to do everything in love. In I Corinthians 13:2, just a few chapters back, Paul wrote, “If I had the gift of prophesy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing” (NLT). It doesn’t matter how much faith you have or what you can do for God in your own strength, you’ve got to do it in love or it’s worthless. Love is the key element in our walk with God. Live your life doing everything in love, and what you do will prosper.