Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith. Be people of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. These parting words from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church provide a great summary for how to live as Christians in our relationships.
Be on your guard. The devil is at work to undermine our relationships, so be wary. Our marriages and families are the central building blocks of society, and so are a prized target of the devil. If we cling to anger and fail to forgive, we allow the devil a wedge to separate us. Some bitter resentment here, a betrayed trust there, and the fabric of our community unravels a little more. When relationships are finally severed and families broken, it not only fractures couples and cracks children, it divides the entire community. We need to be on our guard against allowing the devil to get a foothold in our own relationships and the relationships of others.
Stand firm in the faith. God is the vine and we are the branches. Our strength comes from him and apart from him we are helpless. Staying connected to God by nurturing our faith life will equip us for the challenges that we will face in life. Our faith is the compass that guides us through life. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ and he will equip you for the the calling he has placed before you.
Be people of courage. It takes courage to follow our Savior in faith, loving and forgiving one another as he loved and forgave us. It takes God-given strength to be able to forgive someone who has hurt us, but we can choose to forgive and seek reconciliation. Romans 12:18 tells us that in as much as it depends on you, you should live in peace with one another. We cannot control the behavior of others, but we must take responsibility for our own behavior, letting go our right to vindication, making every effort to live at peace with one another. This will require courage and strength that only God can provide.
Do everything in love. Love is the fulfillment of how God designed us to behave. As we strive to see each other not only as brothers and sisters in Christ, but also as broken and hurting people in need of love, we will come to care for each other more deeply. Seeing the other’s brokenness, it should draw us to love each other more. We are all broken people loved by God and trying to live out that love with one another.
So dear friends, let me sum this up with Paul: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be people of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
Lord, help us to be on guard against the work of the devil in our relationship. May we stand firm in our faith having the courage and strength to love and to forgive each other. Thank you for showing us what love looks like and help us to demonstrate that love daily to one another. In the name of Jesus, Amen.