Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. (1 Cor. 16:13-14)
Saint Paul wrote a large portion of the New Testament, explaining to us matters of faith, love, courage etc. But in these two beautiful verses above, it is as if Saint Paul summarizes five important topics into a simple “prescription” to for us to live by.
- Be watchful
Watchfulness is connected to prayer, time management, and preparation. It is wise to have a special place to pray and meet with God. Whether you have a special room in your home, or your bedroom, always be sure to be watchful and spend time with God in prayer. Being watchful is also being mindful of your time. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. How do you spend your time and how do you utilize it? Pay attention to time and make sure that your time is filled with intimate moments with Christ. The word “watch” also means to “prepare.” Be prepared for when you have to meet God. Be prepared with your good deeds and positive actions in life. “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matt. 25:13)
- Stand fast in faith
The second thing is “to stand fast” and to be solid, like a deep-rooted tree that cannot be shaken by the winds. A person who is not secure in his faith, can drift off and get lost easily. And because faith is of great importance in our lives, the church fathers made it a Creed. A creed means the faith is of well-defined terms, of well-defined statements, is not open for interpretation or discussion, but is composed of very clear statements. Be steadfast in faith.
- Be brave
To be brave means to be mature, and to be whole-hearted. It also means to have a sense of responsibility. In life, a person may work, serve, have their own business, a family, or he may be consecrated, or a monk. Some people perform their responsibilities with laziness, others perform their responsibilities with perseverance and in all seriousness. Being brave does not mean muscles or physical strength but it means wisdom and maturity. Not everyone is able to understand life. There is a difference between surviving and living. To survive means that you eat, drink, breathe etc. But to understand life, is to truly be alive. To be brave is also to endure, because a life of comfort and luxury loses a person many blessings. So be careful, be wise, be mature, be a person who is clear about their responsibilities, demonstrate endurance, and be a person who deals carefully in all matters.
- Be strong
To be strong means to live piously, in the fear of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10). Also, “be strong” means that you do not feel that you are alone, but that the Spirit of God is at work within you. On the day of our baptism, when we were born the second birth, we became a new person supported by the Spirit of God. We were re-born of the water and the Spirit and our life attained a special strength. This is why Saint Paul said “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). To “be strong” is also to find strength in the lives of the saints, their stories, and their prayers and intercessions on our behalf.
- Let all that you do be done with love
Saint Paul, who wrote “the chapter of love” in 1 Corinthians 13, summarizes the same here in one single statement: “let all that you do be done with love.” Unfortunately it seems that our world lacks love these days, but the hope is in each one of us to be a source of true love. No matter what we are dealing with, or who we are dealing with, our primary value should be to do all with love. The love you offer, the love you receive from Christ and pass along to others, the love you have when dealing with your neighbor, or with your peers. When you build your relationships on the foundation of love, you are building them on the foundation of God. And that is why our love is to be towards one another and towards everybody, no matter who that person is; we are to love every human being. Live with love towards everyone, and you will reap the fruits of that. “Love never fails,” (1 Cor. 13:8) because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
– Summary and Excerpts from a sermon by Pope Tawadros II, his prayers be with us