Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. — 1 Corinthians 16:13
Tucked between Siletz Bay and the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon Coast is the small coastal community of Gleneden Beach. I have happy memories of that little town — my husband and I spent our honeymoon there thirty-eight years ago. However, for many people, sorrow darkens their memories of that particular stretch of coastline. Gleneden Beach is known for its dangerous sneaker waves, and every year lives are lost there. In spite of numerous warnings posted along the water’s edge, cautioning visitors of the danger and advising them to be on the alert, occasional high waves roll in unexpectedly and claim the unwary. The warnings are there, but they are overlooked or unheeded, and tragedy is the result.
In our spiritual lives, there is a danger of becoming complacent. Though Scripture contains many warnings regarding the enemy of our souls, it is possible to overlook or ignore them, and thus become vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Paul directed those at Corinth to be alert to spiritual dangers. He knew that the believers would face persecutions and suffering, and would be enticed to waver from the truth. He knew apathy could overtake them, and that they would be tempted to leave the faith, so he urged them to stand fast and hold to the truth that they had been taught. The same cautions apply to us.
Heeding God’s warnings involves watchfulness on our part. Watching implies a sensitive conscience — not a scrupulous, overanxious conscience, but one that is healthy, tender, and void of offense. We are habitually “looking unto Jesus” and walking in fellowship with Him. The communication between our souls and the Lord is unbroken. We are watchful to abide in His will, to avoid activities that would grieve His Spirit, and to align our actions and attitudes with His law of love.
When we walk with that type of vigilant spirit, we need never be overwhelmed by the assault of the enemy. No spiritual “sneaker wave” will catch us unaware. We are obedient to the warnings that He who knows all things gives to those who are watchful, and we are safely kept in His care.
Paul followed his comment that good work is never wasted (1 Corinthians 15:58) with specific recommendations for a tangible response of Christian duty. The concluding chapter of 1 Corinthians opens with advice concerning contributions for the support of the Jerusalem church, which was suffering from poverty and famine. The believers at Corinth were aware that the Apostle was collecting funds, and apparently they had written to inquire to what extent they could participate in this collection. His response outlined several points: their giving was to be systematic and planned, the amount of each gift was to be proportionate to the giver’s income, and the collection was to be taken before he arrived.
After brief comments about his travel plans and the plans of his fellow laborers, Timothy and Apollos, Paul made his closing remarks. He directed the Corinthian believers to be alert to spiritual dangers, to remain true to the Lord, to behave maturely, to be strong, and to do all things with kindness and love.
As the spiritual father of the church at Corinth, he extended his love to all in the assembly, including believers and unbelievers. He also extended a serious warning to those who failed to love and accept Christ. He said, “Anathema Maranatha,” which means, “Let them be cursed, the Lord cometh.” He knew that those who chose not to believe on Jesus Christ would be cursed upon the return of the Lord.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. Conclusion (16:1-24)
A. The collection for the saints (16:1-4)
B. Personal plans (16:5-9)
C. Personal instructions about Timothy and Apollos (16:10-12)
D. Personal concluding exhortations (16:13-18)
E. Personal greetings and benediction (16:19-24)
Let us determine to stay alert, focused, and watchful, so we can avoid being caught unaware by the enemy of our souls.