As he readies himself to bid farewell, Paul sets the bar high for the Corinthians. They have been given something that is immeasurably valuable. To be granted the ability to know Jesus as their Savior from sin and to trust in him as their life-changing Redeemer is the most precious gift in the world. Jesus had called it “the pearl of great price.”
So Paul reminds the Corinthians to stay vigilant, remain true to their convictions, overcome their fears, and persevere. It would be horrible, unimaginably tragic, to lose that pearl.
The Corinthians are also to recall what Paul had told them several chapters back about love. As critically important as vigilance, courage and perseverance are, without love it all really becomes worthless.
So, Paul reminds them, cover everything you do in love. The people that God has placed around you need that reflection of Christ’s love that emanates from you, child of God.
But most of all, know that neither you nor they are meant to go it alone. The church, and the work of the kingdom, require us to have each others’ back. And Paul makes sure the Corinthians don’t forget that others have had their back. He mentions by name just a few of those who have stepped up to insure that they had been well-served with the gospel.
Paul knows with certainty the importance — and the blessing — of the brotherhood and sisterhood of faith. Hanging together is the only option. We believe deeply we have to work as one. Or should we say, we believe deeply we get to work as one?
Because it can be — at times — a long, difficult journey. Because we need each other. Because, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we are is family.
For us, togetherness is the only way!
When we do stick together, good things result. Despite the difficulties and hardships life brings, our spirit stays refreshed. And the work of the kingdom gets done.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition” (1 Corinthians 16:13-18, NIV).
Lord, help us stick together and have each others’ back in the church so that our spirit can always be refreshed by the gospel, and so that your kingdom work of sharing the gospel can continue to move forward.
Our Bible reading for Tuesday, August 25, is 2 Chronicles 24:1 – 25:28, 1 Corinthians 16:5-24 and Psalm 102:18-28.
Header image based on "family hike" by woodleywonderworks, CC By 2.0