Stand firm and above all love
On its best days, ministry is tough. We live in the trenches of spiritual warfare. Our culture does not respect what we do; sometimes, even our churches do not respect what we do. Ladies, the battle is on, but there is hope! God already has won the war!
At the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul closes this letter with a powerful exhortation: "Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love." (1 Cor. 16:13-14, CSB)
Let’s take a look:
(1) Be alert
Being alert is more than just being awake. It implies being watchful, being aware of what is happening around you. We need to be alert to the ways our culture tempts us into sin — subtle, seemingly insignificant ways that normalize what God says is wrong. Christian women need to be alert to the ways sin wants to invade our lives, our families, and our churches. We must not let our guard down.
(2) Stand firm in the faith
We need women who are committed to biblical inerrancy and theological accuracy. We must stand firm in the truth of the gospel, never compromising the integrity of God’s Word. Across the world, men and women are willing to lay down their lives to defend the truth of God. We must be no less tenacious in our defense in a culture that is increasingly hostile to the things of God.
(3) Be courageous
Three years ago, in January 2015, I shared my cancer battle with Flourish readers, along with my word for that year — brave. God calls all of us to be brave, sometimes because of the circumstances of our lives, but more often, because sharing the gospel means trusting that God will do the work of salvation in the lives of the people around us. He never asks us to cower or lose heart. We can always stand firm because we know who goes before us in the battle.
(4) Be strong
A long and successful ministry comes from people who have, over many years, built up their endurance for the race. If we go into ministry with thin skin and a lack of strength for the long-distance run, we will never make it. We have to be strong when our families are attacked. We have to be strong when our churches come under attack. We have to be strong when we are attacked. But we are not strong in ourselves. Our strength comes only from the Lord.
(5) Do everything in love
Finally, everything we do — all our courage, strength, and steadfastness — comes to nothing if it is not done in love. I am increasingly troubled by the unkindness I see rampant in our country. We think nothing of roasting people on social media, whether we know them or not. We push our way to the top of our professions, giving no thought to the people we stepped on to get there. We put ourselves first, and everyone else last. As people of the cross, we must be better than that. We must cover every action, every decision, every word in the love of Christ. To be kind and to love others should not be lost to the Christian. We should be making a difference in our world, as people will know us by our love, first for the Lord, and then for others.
Christian woman, I pray God uses you mightily to change your world. Be strong, courageous, alert, and stand firm. Defend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Be His vessel of mercy to our lost world. And do everything with the love and kindness that can only be found in Christ.