Monday, October 10, 2016

Be Strong & Courageous

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

If you read the verse in its full context, it seems a little out of place. Paul is in the middle of telling the church at Corinth about his planned trip to Macedonia, an update on Apollos and Timothy, and then he throws in this pearl of wisdom. One of the things that made this verse jump out at me is that it is full of verbs: Be, stand, be, be, do. It is not theoretical or rhetorical, rather simple words that any of us can understand and importantly, apply. The other quality it has that I’m hoping we can explore is that it is distinctly masculine. This isn’t a verse for sissies but for real men.

Things to think about:

·       Be on your guard – this presupposes we are to be alert and aware of attacks. Nobody needs to be on guard for something good coming their way!
o   Jesus tells the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane to  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
o   Let’s get specific about what you’re on guard about
o   What are you primary forms of defense?
·       Stand firm in the faith
o   People and events can conspire to challenge our faith. Admittedly, it can get rough sometimes whether it’s a series of things happening or the magnitude or duration of a single event is just too much to handle
o   How do you see God’s hand either as the author of what’s happening or His hand as your form of rescue?
·       Be courageous; be strong
o   Now Paul is going from staying in place (be on guard, stand firm) to moving forward
o   A quick search on Bible Gateway for “be strong” yielded 36 hits that almost invariably included “be strong and courageous”. Clearly these go together.
o   Courage has us going into uncharted territory where it’s risky
o   Is courage the absence of fear or something else? See Psalm 27:1
o   Do you sense that God is asking you to take a risk or do something that makes you uncomfortable?
o   2 Samuel 22:33, 35
·       Do everything in love
o   Of course, we have to look only a few chapters earlier in 1 Corinthians 13
§  Absent love Paul says we are a noisy gong, nothing, profitless
o   How does Jesus, himself love incarnate, instruct us with respect to love?
§  Matthew 22:37-39

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