Whether you keep up with the news or not, the world we live in is a scary place. At times it is tempting to stop listening; to sort of hibernate in my own little bubble. But when I remember Jesus’ call to go out into the world to make disciples, I am convicted that I am being irresponsible. After all, how can I “love my neighbor” and ignore what is happening to people around me?
This morning I discovered what I believe to be an answer to my quandary; a formula for living at peace in a troubled world. I was reading I Corinthians 16 when the words of verse 14 all but jumped off the page at me:“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”
As I reflected on the simple but powerful call of Paul’s words, it struck me that if we walk in wisdom and in faith there is no room for frustration, regret or fear. Paul calls Christ’s followers to live intentionally devoted to honoring God in a fallen and many times dangerous world. I was especially touched by the way each piece of this formula builds upon the other to make a complete package:
Be on your guard–recognizes the danger that is a constant factor. A common struggle in the Counseling Room is coming to grips with disappointment and heartache. One of the reasons I believe God gifted us with His Word is because He does not want His people to be naive about the power of sin. When Jesus sent out His disciples He gave warning as He instructed them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) In other words, this is not heaven!
Stand firm in the faith–is a call to stand not in self-righteousness but in Christ’s holiness. By faith we assume the best of God in a world bent and broken by sin.
Be men and women of courage–calls us to live out our faith intentionally. Let’s face it, it takes divinely supplied courage to live by faith! It takes such courage to love as well as to forgive.
Be strong–don’t be blown and tossed by the winds of an opinionated world. In the beginning of his letter to the Corinthian church Paul wrote, “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom; the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (!:25) In a letter to another church Paul clearly identified the source of the believer’s strength: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10.11)
Such strength requires a yieldedness of mind and heart out of which flows the final piece of the formula . . . .
Do everything in love. Where the other pieces are strung together, this piece fittingly stands alone as the capstone of all that has been presented. When our motivation is to honor God in all we say or do, then our actions will reflect His love.
No matter what you may be facing right now, my prayer is that the wisdom and perspective of the Scriptures will be your strength. Stay close to the Shepherd and find comfort and assurance in the words of Christ Jesus:
“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32,32)
May the peace of Christ rule in your heart this day and always . . . .
All to His Glory!