Go find a mirror.
I read something the other day that resonated with me. Maybe its because of a few things that I am struggling with internally or maybe its just a simple, powerful verse. Either way, it has stayed with me and I knew it would be great to share. (In more version than one!)
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NKJV)
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (KJV)
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)
Ok, it looks fairly straightforward, right? I mean, a mixture of simple statements telling you how to behave and how to face life. So, I guess the question is.... do you? Yes, that is ME asking YOU that if you take a close, hard look in the mirror, would you see a watchful, courageous, strong-faithed, unconditionally loving person? Or would you see a broken being who needs a fight song; an anthem, so-to-speak? I bet if we are all HONEST, it will be the latter. (you know darn well there is no such thing as human perfection).
Maybe this verse could be your anthem. You know, your "I'm going to be stronger and more confident than I was a few minutes ago" anthem. Let's see...
Being on guard or watchful. For what? Of what? Well for starters, when you have strong beliefs, getting tempted, debated or tricked is always a possiblity. Believe it or not, there is always someone, something or maybe some spiritual being just waiting for you to let your guard down so that they may tear you down. If they succeed, it only takes a moment for you to lose sight of what is important and succumb to actions you may later regret. Don't give just anyone an opportunity to cross your fence.
That goes hand-in-hand with standing "firm in the faith." If you hold on to your faith, you know where you came from and where you are going. You know who you answer to and who should ignore. You have guidance. Be still and listen for it. Follow it.
In that mirror, are you courageous? Are you brave? I know some days I feel more courageous and brave than others. It can even change by the moment! ...
I could be heading to a meeting with a group of strangers and my very introverted self will be beaming with positivity - carrying a full load of courage and a smile from ear to ear. In my head, I may even be skipping and singing, "I'm walking on sunshine, whoa oh, And don't it feel good?! Yeah!" But, then... it happens... I walk into the room and - GULP! - <courage exits, stage right> Now what?! Sigh. This is usually when I give a soft "Hi!" and find myself a quiet place to sit and think about where my courage went and how to get it back. I pray on this, A LOT!
I don't necessarily believe that is the exact meaning of courageous and bravery that Paul was referring to. But its the day to day courage I need. Im sure it has more to do with standing up to those who are against us. Sticking out like a chicken in a dog show and not bowing down when a challenge arises. Fighting battles without caving in. This, in turn, is also why we need to stay strong. After all, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31. He gives us all of the strength that we need.
Lastly... love (and charity). Selfless giving. the kind of love and charity you don't encounter every day. Its rare. Many of us have good intentions. We don't like to see people cry or hurting, suffering or in need. But it is so much easier to turn our backs and continue moving forward in our lives, worrying solely about ourselves and those close to us, than it is to stop and give up our time, energy and resources to help someone else. Maybe we even think that because we thought about it, that is enough. Maybe we think that if we stray from the "in" crowd and immerse ourselves in a crowd that needs a hand, or a bit of faith, that we will be looked upon differently. Whatever our reason is, it isn't good enough. BOOM! How'd ya like them apples, sweet cheeks? Let me repeat: Your reason is not good enough! We are all already different and that money, time and energy you have is what God gave you to do His work, not your own. Thoughts are NOT actions. Get up and make a difference. Give your heart. Give until you cant give any more. Then give some more.
This. Life. Is. Not. About. You.