Please read 1 Corinthians chapter 16.
In this final part of his letter to the local church at Corinth Paul wrote two sentences that concisely summarize the purpose of his entire letter. I want to look at those two sentences and see how we can live in light of them, especially in our local church, today.
"Be on you guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love."
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Be on your Guard.
The local church will always be a prime target for attacks from Satan. See, the local church is a body of believers dedicated to living for Christ and His mission and Satan can't stand that. We must be on guard. For what? For the sins of the flesh that would tear our churches apart from within; from false teachers who would infect our churches with wrong doctrine; or anything that prevents us from carrying out the Great Commission in our community.
Stand Firm in the Faith
To stand firm in the faith we must be well versed in what our faith, the Gospel, is. When we know what the Gospel is and what it isn't, we must stand firmly on it. Like a house built upon a rock we will stand if we stand on the Gospel even in the midst of the storms. But like a house built on the sand we will tumble down when the rains come if we're built on anything less than the rock. "My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness!" Know the Gospel and take a stand on it; don't let yourself be moved by pride, fad or even war. Let nothing move us!
Be Men of Courage
This applies to women, too. We must be courageous. Don't be afraid to stand up and keep our local churches true to Christ and His mission. As C. S. Lewis said in The Screwtape Letters: "Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality." Jesus wasn't just loving, as we might define love. Rather, He had courageous love that loved far beyond the point of testing. If you have patience, have it beyond the point of testing; that is courage. That is what we are called to. Be men and women of courage!
To be strong you must work out. We must strengthen ourselves through immersing ourselves in His Word and His ways. And to be strong we must have reliance on the Holy Spirit Himself. A strong Christian is not rogue. He is not an "army of one". A strong Christian knows the source of his strength and stands beside his brothers to maximize each others strength in the Lord.
Do Everything in Love
This is the lynchpin of functioning local churches. If you want to know what love is read 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Love is the lynchpin because the four previous commandments will be screwed up royally by us, if not done in love. If not done in love being on guard is paranoia; if not done in love standing firm in the faith is legalism; if not done in love being courageous is empty; and if not done in love being strong is shallow machoism. God is love. If we abide in Christ we will exude His love. We, as the local church, must exude His love.
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love" today.