Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
I Corinthians 16:13-14
I’m amazed how much “oomph” can be packed into only a few words of Scripture. Just goes to show that you don’t necessarily have to meditate on entire chapters of Scripture to find inspiration. Today’s two verses provide plenty of instruction and inspiration.
These verses are found at the end of Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in his final instructions to them. They serve as a summary of his entire letter to them. Indeed, they could serve as a summary of all that is needed to lead a solid Christian life.
Be watchful—This is a full-time job for Christians. We have to be constantly watchful of what we say, think, see, and do. Being a Christian isn’t something that fits into a compartment, but something that permeates everything. I once read a book called “Men Are Like Waffles-Women Are Like Spaghetti.” The basic thesis in this book is that men are like waffles—just as a waffle has defined squares and compartments, that this is the way men tend to be, they tend to put everything in boxes, they tend to do one task at a time. Women, on the other hand are multi-taskers, and various things can spill over so that many things are going on at once. Hence, a husband sits down to watch a football game and his wife comes to watch with him, eager to fold laundry and discuss finances at the same time. The husband gets annoyed because he is in his “TV box” and only wants to focus on this one task. Many Christians look at Christianity as a “box”. So, they have their “church box” on Sunday mornings and maybe even a “prayer box” each morning. But Christianity doesn’t necessarily permeate each aspect of life throughout the day. Christians need to be watchful at all times, not just on Sunday mornings, or in morning prayer. Our Christian witness needs to be part of every activity throughout the day.
Stand firm in your faith—To stand firm means to not waver in times of temptation or criticism. The world is very critical of Christianity. Christian behavior is not only not praised, in many corners it is ridiculed. The one who stands firm remains resolute in what he or she believes and how he or she behaves, regardless of how much criticism follows.
Be courageous—It takes a person of courage to be watchful and stand firm. Christianity is not for the timid. It takes courage to stick up for what you believe when others put you down for your faith.
Be strong—Part of being strong is having strong conviction. We can’t be lukewarm as Christians. Because lukewarm faith is not faith at all, and lukewarm action accomplishes little. Dedicated Christians stand up to serve. They go “all in” on faith.
Let all that you do be done in love—All of today’s words are related—being watchful, standing firm, being courageous and being strong. At the center of all of this is love. If we can’t remember how to be courageous or strong, remembering what love is puts us in good stead as Christians. To love is to take from oneself and give to someone else. One cannot take from himself only to give back to himself. Love is a self-emptying proposition. Christ loves us so much that He emptied Himself all the way to death. If we maintain our daily focus on loving God and serving others, it will be easier to do the other things—be watchful, stand firm, be courageous and be strong.
Lord, thank You for Your many gifts. Thank You for the gift of Your love. Help me to be watchful in my faith today, to keep You at the center of my thoughts and actions. Help me to stand firm in the face of temptation. Help me to be courageous in the face of ridicule. Help me to be strong in faith in whatever challenges will come my way today. And let all that I do today be done with love. May I be a witness to the power of love today. Amen.
Be watchful. Stand firm. Be courageous. Be strong. Love.