Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)
Doesn’t that pretty much sum it up? That’s being faithful. The way Paul wrote this, these were not in his mind to be momentary attitudes; but continuous states of existence. My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus; this is what is developed and produced in us by God’s spirit, because of the relationship we have with Christ and in Christ. When Paul says “watch,” he’s not talking about an occasional absence of sleep; but a determined effort at wakefulness. It means being vigilant so that our spiritual liberty won’t be endangered by compromising with anything in our environment or our circumstances.
Cultivating His abiding presence within our daily life and work has been paramount during my recent tenure as your Senior Warden at Church of the Holy Comforter. Being on watch, contending for our faith as we have received it with a national church who would prefer the faithful of our number to just “go away,” has been exhausting. Without Him, there is no way possible I would have ever been physically able to lead your Vestry for the past two years without breaking down in the middle of things. Certainly, putting Him before all others and praising Him throughout the past three years has made all the difference in how we’ve weathered the storm and how He’s led me through it!
These verses also mean to not play with temptations or tolerate their manifestation. We also must wisely discern what is of Him and what is not. Paul is telling us to be stable and not to be flitting from one fad and fashion to another like the people in this book (1 Corinthians) were shown to be. He says, “Be like men.” He means, “Be mature, stable, responsible to duty.” We are to exercise our spiritual maturity and as mature Christians call out that which is not of Him. There is much around us today (don’t get me started about the Laodicean church) that we are called to NOT be a part of or to tolerate in any way, shape or form. It takes spiritual maturity and strength to stand and to keep yourself set apart from that which the world wants you to incorporate, to conform and to tolerate.
Paul also wants us to understand that being strong in god is not something inherent within us. Remember, it does not come naturally. Human nature is at war against God. It resists seeking God. Being strong in God is derived from the relationship with Him; and this relationship must be at, even as a good relation-ship with another human being must be worked at.
Finally, “love” he says. He’s talking here about the love of God. This is not a syrupy affection with a lot of hugs or charm or social graces (though it may include those things). His Word, in fact, says that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain. He is not saying that they are evil; He is saying that they have the power to deceive us and others into thinking that because one is charming or beautiful, that they are somehow converted. He is warning us that those things might be nothing more than a carnal façade. So, what is love?
Love is doing what is right from God’s perspective. Remember this is the same apostle who admonished Timothy to rebuke people before all, even right before the congregation. If that’s what it took, that was what was to be done, and it as an act of love. Love is being responsible, love is being honest, love is being loyal, trustworthy, faithful, and zealous toward God.