Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 ESV
The Hallmark channel is immensely popular because many of us love to watch stories about romantic love. Though the actors and actresses change, and the settings vary from the Canadian Rockies to the Texas Gulf coast, the plot lines all seem to end in “Happily ever after.” So, when we come to the New Testament’s concept of love, pictures flit through our mind of happy couples embracing and working out their differences over candle-lit dinners. But these kinds of scenes are as far from the mind of the Apostle Paul when he wrote today’s verse as the far side of the moon.
According to the Bible, true love is something commanded of all believers. Jesus said it like this, “This is my commandment, that you love one another” John 15:12. Notice, this is not a guideline, a suggestion or an inspirational idea. Jesus commands a love, that is humble enough to wash dirty feet and yet ferocious enough to stand the test of a cross. In today’s passage, Paul begins by describing this kind of love as being watchful. While people say that love is blind, or that it sees things through rose-colored glasses, Paul says that it stands guard and watches out for the enemy’s attacks. Though, we confidently love others, at the same time we are told to be on the lookout for trouble. No matter how much we love, there will be tests, severe enough to cripple relationships if we are not guarding against them. Then we are told that this watchfulness takes its stand on faith. Just being determined to preserve a friendship a marriage or a family isn’t enough to guarantee success. Lasting victory comes by a faith that stands firmly on the promises of God. It means keeping a solid grip on Jesus Christ, before trying to help others. We cannot save someone who is drowning, unless Jesus is holding on to us so that we won’t sink ourselves! Last of all Paul tells us to act like mature men and women. We mustn’t rely on Hallmark Channel miracles, to love others. When the background music isn’t gently playing and it feels like everything is caving in, it takes the fiercely obedient love of God in our hearts, to make it through. It takes a faith that stands firmly on the Bible, even when it means being cancelled on social media or demoted at work. That is the kind of love by which God loved the world enough to send His Son to die in our place. This love of God, is our strength for today, helps us stand in our battles and is our action plan for tomorrow. Only this is the kind of love that truly loves others and lives happily ever after!