Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith;
be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Paul’s has only one more opportunity to encourage the Corinthians before he brings his letter to them to a close. He wants to see this struggling church succeed; he’s gone over 14 chapters’ worth of strong correctives to help them get back on track, to put an end to their proud, self-centered way of living.
Their carnal behavior has brought much pain to themselves and much dishonor to the Lord. He wants them to start a living Spirit-directed life which always leads to blessing. His final words are imperatives: they are to be alert, firm, strong and loving.
Alert: To watch, be awake, quite literally, to be alive. Christians can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel of their lives! To do so could be tragic.
Firm: To hold your ground, to drop anchor, to be steadfast. There are a lot of things that oppose our full embrace of Christ–we can’t afford to lose ground in spiritual, eternal matters.
Strong: Quite literally “be a man,” prove brave, courageous. In the face of strong opposition all believers must “man-up” as the Greek puts it; we can’t afford to let our guard down.
Finally, love: The quality that balances all the other exhortations–without it, these imperatives can become militant and harsh. To do everything in love balances our behavior and makes sure that our strength in such matters never becomes domineering, rude, or dogmatic. We can’t afford to treat one another insensitively.
If we are willing to put these character qualities to work in our lives by God’s grace, we can be sure our Christian lives will be strong, healthy, and blessed.