Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Paul is giving final instructions to the Corinthian church as he wraps up his first letter to them.
Details about handling the contributions for Jerusalem, his travel plans to see them, and some instructions regarding Timothy and Apollos.
Then he lays out some simple orders; be on guard. Be courageous. Stand strong. Good stuff.
He could have left it at that, but he added a very important detail.
Do everything with love. Don't forget the LOVE.
Those who chose to follow Jesus had it hard. And even more so after His departure to be with the Father...the disciples of Jesus were subject to all kinds of oppression and punishment for their faith.
Those who were being converted were doing so knowing full well what could happen to them. They needed a dose of courage! They needed to take on a scrappy kind of attitude and spirit!
But Paul reminded them, do everything...EVERYTHING, with love.
Paul himself, even as he witnessed Stephen being murdered, was a recipient of love...when Stephen forgave and asked God to forgive his murderers, that was the love of God at work.
Now as Paul advances the gospel of Christ he too, reminds the church..do everything with love.
Many of us in the ministry of Jesus want to do great, grand, magnanimous things to bring people to Jesus and see them saved! It's an ongoing battle that we keep pushing forward!
Sometimes we are so passionate to be good "doers" for Jesus that we easily let the tasks get to us and forget to pack one little item...love.
Worse yet, sometimes we can justify being harsh and intense, saying that "God doesn't want any spiritual woosies in His army", as a way to excuse bullying and manipulative behavior.
We think we get the job done but by leaving true and God centered love out we reach a mind with a mind, but not much else.
It is the love of God where a heart can reach a heart, and that makes an eternal difference!
In this current season of my life and ministry, I'm an "operator"--someone who sets out to get stuff done in the church.
I pack uniforms, equipment, tools, and implements to get stuff done.
Yet,I must always remind myself that without LOVE packed in there too, I'm just a noisy, annoying, distraction to God's best to minister to His people.
Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me how far I am from truly being Your disciple...I so often forget the love in all I do, which breaks Your heart.
Help me live and operate "heart first" and I will let You handle the rest. Love You Jesus! Amen!