Paul asked the Corinthians to remember five things. Why? What was so special about those five things?
30:18 There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand…[in this case, five].
At the end of the first Corinthian letter, Paul gives a short, precise charge to the readers/listeners:
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.
It sounds simple, but it’s actually a summary of the entire letter. Let’s look at each one and see where he has previously exhorted them in each area.
Be on your guard- Against divisions (1:10). We are to “be fully equipped with the same mind and the same opinion” when we meet together in the Lord. Unity is what Christ asked His heavenly Father for us to have (John 17:22-23).
Stand firm in the faith- On the foundation of Jesus the Messiah (3:11). We are to make sure that we are building with gold, silver and precious stones (our obedience and steadfastness) rather than with wood, grass or straw (our disobedience and waywardness) (3:12-13).
Be courageous- in living the sacrificial life. “Why not rather let yourselves be wronged? Why not rather put up with loss” (6:7)? To live a sacrificial life takes courage because our first inclination is to retaliate, to grab for security, and for vindication. Paul said, “When we are insulted, we give back blessings. When we are persecuted, we put up with it. When we are slandered, we speak gently in return” (4:12-13). In this way, we show the overcoming love of Christ rather than the overcoming force of the world.
Be strong- in our beliefs, but meek (controlled strength) in attitude (8:7-9). Conviction over preference; prayer over opinion. We must protect each other. As the song says, “We will guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.”*
Do everything in love- It is the motivation behind the Advent, His life, the cross, and the resurrection. It can be summed up in 13:8, “Love never fails.” Fails to what? Put others first. The compassionate love of God is what has been imparted to us and is what we are to share by demonstration with others.
So, maybe Paul was giving them something to memorize in order to remember what he was teaching them. Maybe we could learn them, too…
Abba, I want to be like You, so help me to be on my guard, to stand firm in the faith, to be courageous, to be strong, and to do everything in love. May I memorize these five commands and what they mean; then, help me to implement them in my life according to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
*They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love