In Paul's first letter to the Church at Corinth, he includes within his closing remarks some instructions in how to live victoriously. These instructions can be found in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 which says:
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)
There are five things in this passage which Paul tells us to do:
We must never forget that we are in a battle, not against flesh and blood but against the enemy who seeks to destroy us. (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8). Therefore, we must be on guard not just when we feel like it but at all times. We must be watchful. We must pray. We must be clothed in the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18). We must have our sword which is the Word of God, drawn and ready for action. We must have our shield which is faith, in place to protect us from the weapons of the enemy. However the Roman soldier, of whom Paul was undoubtedly using as his illustration, did not merely use his shield as a weapon of defense, he also used it as a weapon of offense to push the enemy back, knocking him off balance. Our faith does not merely protect us, it is a powerful weapon that causes the enemy to retreat and lose his foothold.
We must stand firm. God has placed us where we are and given us our orders. We must stand firm, no matter how fierce the battle and trust Him.
We must be courageous. Rather than listening to the words of the enemy and fixing our eyes on our circumstances, we must listen to the Word of God and fix our eyes on Jesus. You will not be courageous until you do.
In order to be strong, you must remember and go to the source of your strength. Your strength does not come from yourself, other people, the newest book or program, etc. Your strength comes from God (2 Samuel 22:33; 40).
Finally you must do everything in love. We can't miss this last part, folks for this is the heart of Christ. This is why so many people in this world today are repelled by Christianity. We have wielded the weapons of God but we have neglected to show them His heart. Our failure to do so has left many with a false image of God. He is not a God of love, full of mercy and grace. He is a God who seeks to punish and destroy. That sounds a lot like the characteristics of the enemy, eh?
I had to sit here for a moment thinking about that as I typed those words because I had never quite thought about it like that before...but that's exactly what we are doing when we fail to portray God's love. We end up portraying the enemy instead.
May we heed these instructions and live by them.
Scripture quotation taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.