Today, I continue my weekly “Life Verse” series. This passage from 1 Corinthian 16:13-14 (NLT) really speaks to me:
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
The way, I see it, these verses offer five commands that help me to make better life decisions:
- Be on guard. I don’t think this means to be fearful; however, it is important to remember that things are rarely as they first appear, and that it is wise to carefully examine whatever information, relationships, or experiences come to my attention. Just because I perceive something with my senses doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true!
- Stand firm in the faith. Standing firm requires effort, but thank heavens that this faith is in the Lord, and not in myself! My job is to remain rooted in what I know to be true, rather than being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV). This is often very difficult – some winds can be very forceful!
- Be courageous. Being brave is also incredibly challenging, but also can be quite rewarding, too. I include things like boldness, initiative, and God-ordained confidence in here, as well. While I am to be wise in all of my dealings, I should not be fearful; my faith journey should be (but frequently isn’t, sadly) characterized by courage, and not fretfulness.
- Be strong. I don’t naturally think of myself as being a strong person, but I stopped to ponder something a friend told me a couple of years ago: “You are stronger than you realize.” As I’ve discussed previously, physical strength comes from leveraging – and eventually overcoming – resistance; I believe that the same principle holds true in our spiritual and emotional lives as well. I am grateful that the just-in-time strength that I’ve experienced during the critical times in my life – when I feel the weakest, ironically – comes from the Lord, rather than from my own efforts.
- And do everything with love. Perhaps this command is the most challenging of them all. It would be easier if it read, “and do most things with love.” However, the biblical mandate is to do everything with love. This is a real challenge, but the only way that i can be authentically loving toward others is by allowing the Holy Spirit guide all of my relationships. This can be incredibly difficult – especially when those interactions are fraught with tension, frustration, or other unhealthy attitudes.
The interesting thing about this passage is that these commands are additive – I can’t parse apart the verse and decide to be strong and courageous, but ignore the other commands. Rather, I am being reminded to embrace all of it. Yes, I may fail (and frequently do), but my job is to try. It’s like aiming for a target with bow and arrow – the arrow may not land where I want it to, but it’s where I intend for it to go that ultimately matters.
I never said that these life verses were easy; they are biblical principles that anchor my life, and challenge me to grow in important ways. So today, I am incredibly thankful for the way that the Bible is unflinchingly honest and forthcoming in the areas where I need to develop. Note that the Bible isn’t condemning! It simply suggests a better way – one that ultimately brings me greater peace and comfort, too.
Here is my prayer for today: Dear Lord, thank You for these five simple (but not easy) principles upon which I can improve the quality of my life, as well as the relationships I am blessed to enjoy. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me to be on guard; to remain firm in my faith in You; to be courageous; to be strong; and to do everything in love. May I seek to live a life that brings honor and glory to You. In Your name I pray, Amen.