Standing firm in love

Remaining vigilant in the faith requires constant attention and care for one another.

Remaining vigilant in the faith requires constant attention and care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14: “Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong! Let all that you do be done in love.”

As the apostle Paul is drawing his first Corinthian epistle to a close, this spontaneous admonition stands in contrast to the comparatively mundane instructions surrounding it. It’s as if he is summarizing the content of the epistle within these simple phrases.

This concept of being strong and standing firm in the faith is a common one throughout Hebraic culture of the Bible.

  • Psalm 27:14: “Wait for Yahweh. Be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for Yahweh.”
  • Psalm 31:24: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in Yahweh.”

In Hebrew, the concept of being courageous is equated with being bold, standing firm, being strong, and standing alert. This was the admonition presented to Joshua by Moses as he was being instructed to take the land of Canaan for the Israelites.

  • Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you.””
  • Deuteronomy 31:23: “He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them. I will be with you.””

Paul appears to be harkening back to these passages of encouragement. The Corinthian believers were struggling on many fronts, both internally and externally, and they needed to be encouraged.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the congregation. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.

Interestingly, Paul encapsulates the idea of standing firm and being strong within the practice of recognizing their own weaknesses and loving one another. By loving one another, the believers could stand strong, building one another up in the faith.

This vigilance is necessary for believers today as we stand apart from this world and its value system. There is strength in unity and love. We can overcome internal differences and struggles that we may have, just like the Corinthian believers were challenged to do. May we stand strong together with vigilance in the face of all opposition in this current generation as we seek to honor the One who calls us to himself.

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Following the path

We are not to rely on our own wisdom as our primary source of planning and actions.

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct you on pleasant paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The word for trust in this famous passage has shades of meaning which include confidence and boldness, running to a secure place for refuge, being free of care or worry, having a steadfast hope. All of these are different ways of representing the believer’s inner reliance on Yahweh.

It is not an admonishment that we are to abandon all reason and understanding. We are simply not to have our own wisdom as the primary source of our planning and our actions. We must leave room for direction from God, maintaining a view to his kingdom and purpose in this life.

The language used here can be likened to a traveler who is trekking through a wilderness in fog. He uses his wisdom and understanding to find the path that will take him where he needs to go. However, once he is on the path, he places his confidence in the path that it will carry him to his destination, even though because of the fog he cannot see the full length of where it is heading. He is carefree from having to choose his own potentially hazardous way through the wilderness,

Our wisdom instructs us to find the path; the path is that in which we place our trust, since it has been provided by God. We have confidence the path that God provided will lead us to our destination. God promises the path will be smooth and pleasant compared to the directionless wilderness ways of our own choosing.

Get on the path, stay on the path, follow the path.