Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV
There is an interesting dichotomy between the two verses in this passage. Paul starts off with a series of four directives that are somewhat military in nature. These are instructions that you might give a soldier who is going out into harms way. Be on your guard; pay attention to what is going on around you so that the enemy can’t sneak up on your unawares. Stand firm; hold the ground that you have been assigned to defend, not running away when the enemy puts in an appearance. Be courageous; trust in your training, your equipment and your skill to the conflict; don’t be afraid to stand up to the enemies attack. Be strong; don’t back down from your enemy.
On the other side, Paul tells us to do everything in love. Our life, our actions, our words, our attitudes; all should be a reflection of love; the love of God for us, our love for him, and love for others in the world. Love here is agape, a love that is directed at others; doing what is best for another person. Everything I do should be motivated with seeking the good of others.
Be involved in the fight, and do everything in love. On the surface those directives seem at odds with each other. But only when we think of fighting as something done to destroy an enemy. Our fight, though, is for the hearts and minds of those that Satan has blinded. And that is something that must be done in love if it to be successful.
In 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul states that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. Rather than fight with swords, guns, tanks, ships or planes; we can fight with love. Love people around you, respond to their attack with love, always seek to do what is best for them. And see what a difference it makes in the world around you. And how much better that difference is than if you had responded with a self first attitude.