Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV
The first part of this passage is filled with admonitions of a military nature. We are engaged in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-20), although oftentimes we seem unaware of it. Paul tells us to be on guard, being alert for the enemy’s attacks. Stand firm in the faith, let nothing move you from the ground we hold. Be courageous, the enemy is strong but God’s armor is more than adequate. Be strong, don’t run away from the conflict but face it head-on. These instructions could easily be coming from a squad leader as the unit prepares for engagement with its enemy.
The second part of this passage is equally important. Do everything in love. In love: be on your guard; stand firm; be courageous; be strong. Everything we do, including spiritual warfare, should be done in love. Without love, we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
It is tempting to focus on one side of this equation, or the other. Fighting against the spiritual darkness in our world, or demonstrating the love of God in all we do. Yet both are necessary. Be faithful to engage our culture, and do so in love. Do everything in love!