1 Corinthians 16:13, NIV
‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love.’
We all have favourite recipes – often for food that we loved when we were young and which we still love today. My Mum used to make pancakes as a weekly treat for the family. Whenever she was busy at the stove, with the pancake mixture in her hand, I was there, probably with tongue hanging out, waiting for the first one off the cooker – it was always the best! Surprise, surprise – I still love pancakes today. But none, of course, are quite as good as the ones Mum used to make!
A recipe is a simple list of ingredients, with some basic instructions of what to do with them. If you follow the instructions carefully, you are guaranteed success. In this verse of scripture, Paul is giving us a very simple recipe for success in the work of the Kingdom of God – a recipe which all who count themselves disciples of Jesus Christ will want to follow.
The instruction to ‘Be on your guard’ is a caution to always be alert to the traps of the enemy and the distractions of the flesh. It’s so easy to get off course when we forget the need to guard what God has entrusted to us.
Then Paul urges us to ‘stand firm in the faith’. Standing firm means don’t move from what God has told you to do until the work is done. In verse nine of this chapter Paul says ‘a great door for effective work has been opened to me, and there are many who oppose me’. It is true that when God opens a door, the enemy will raise up those who will try and stop you walking through it. We must stand firm and not be diverted from God’s purposes.
Then he tells us to be ‘men of courage’. Courage means determination to push through all obstacles, knowing that if God has said it, then it will happen. It’s so easy, when you see obstacles, to be tempted to give up. People of courage don’t give up, they press on.
Finally he says, ‘be strong’. Sometimes we don’t feel very strong, we may even feel weak! But when we press on, even though we may feel weak, then we experience the extraordinary strengthening of the God who makes us strong in the midst of our weakness.
And Paul sums it all up by saying, ‘Do everything in love’. What an example to us Jesus was! Even when He was being nailed to the cross He said, ‘Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.’ What love!
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to walk in the steps of Jesus and always show love to people, even when they are opposing what you are doing. Then give me the courage to press on to victory. Thank you for Paul’s recipe for success. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.