(The following is the July 29 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read 1 Corinthians 16 and pay close attention to verses 13-14.)
How do we show strength and love simultaneously? How do we maintain biblical convictions while still loving people in a culture increasingly hostile to biblical truth? We are not the first generation of Christians to face this dilemma.
The Corinthian culture was rampant with sin inside and outside the church. This worldliness must have challenged even mature, faithful Christians. No biblical writer claimed that living a godly life would be easy. Jesus promised that the world would hate us if we followed him (John 15:18-19). Still, God’s Word calls us to follow Christ’s straight and narrow path regardless of the difficulty. It may seem hard, but we can succeed, not because of our wisdom or strength but because of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power within us.
For this reason, Paul could tell them: “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love” (vv. 13-14). The words are straightforward but profound because the two sentences seem like opposites. On the one hand, he tells them to do things demonstrating strength, courage, and standing firm in their faith. These create an image of someone solid, firm, and immovable. That may not be what comes to mind when considering verse 14’s command, “Do everything in love.”
The Bible wouldn’t tell us to be strong and loving if it were impossible. Therefore, we can represent Christ uniquely in a world desperately needing him. We can show strength in our faith and love to others because of his strength and love for us.
How have you stood firm in your Christian faith before others in recent weeks? How have you demonstrated love, especially to those you may disagree with on issues? How balanced are you in showing strength and love, or do you lean too heavily in one direction?