OBSERVATION: What advice would Paul give to believers living in the 21st Century world? Would it be any different than that which he gave to the Corinthian believers in his closing remarks of his first letter to them? Are these closing words still relevant for us today?
Corinth was a very prosperous city. It was located on a large isthmus that connected two major gulfs and was the safest passage for trade and ships that wanted to avoid a dangerous 250 mile sail. As a result, the city of Corinth became a major trade hub that drew all kinds of people and cultures, practices and religions, along with sins and vices. Corinth boasted both the best and the worst the present day world had to offer.
This sounds a lot like our present day setting. The United States boasts both the best and the worst our present day has to offer. From this great land comes forth some of the most heroic and sacrificial acts of valor this world has ever seen. While at the same time, from its wealth and eclectic nature, come some of the worst forms of sin and expressions of prejudice and hatred. James speaks to this dualistic tendency of mankind that is so graphically illustrated in the culture we live in.
- “With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness. Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen! Do clean and polluted water flow out of the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree produce olives? Can a grapevine produce figs? In the same way, a pool of salt water can’t produce fresh water.” (James 3:9-12 GW)
So, as we find ourselves in the middle of a culture that is no different than that which the Corinthians found themselves in over 2000 years ago, what are we to do? Paul gives us very sound and spiritual advice.
BE ALERT! We must not be ignorant of the crafty plans of the enemy of our soul, and the deceitfulness of sin. We must remain alert by abiding in the Word of God and keeping our minds and spirits daily renewed and focused on that which is good, just, and true!
BE FIRM IN THE CHRISTIAN FAITH! We must hold on to the faith that was given once and for all. We must cling to the truth of the Scriptures. We must teach these principles faithfully to the next generation.
BE COURAGEOUS AND STRONG! The Lord has give us His Holy Spirit to live and abide within us. Jesus said – “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Therefore, we can rise up and face each day, each challenge, and each opportunity of life with courage and the strength that comes from His Grace!
DO EVERYTHING WITH LOVE! This is the hallmark of the Holy Spirit living in our lives. As we see the onslaught of evil in our culture, as we witness the ridicule of those who dismiss the faith we hold so dear, we may be tempted to harbor anger and resentment. However, we must do exactly the opposite. We must rise up anew in the Love of God. We must love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and show ourselves to truly be children of our Heavenly Father! We must remember – “…the greatest of these is love!”
Lord, grant me the grace to be Alert, to walk Firmly in the Christian Faith, to remain Courageous and Strong, and to do everything in Love! May I rise above the limitations of my own humanity and soar on the wings of Your Holy Spirit and Your Great Grace!
In Jesus Name!