“Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong.’ (! Corinthians 16:13-14).
Did you hear about the hopeless student? He said to his English teacher, “I’m not good in English. In fact, I’m hopeless. I try to learn everything you say but it goes in both ears and out the other.” The teacher said, “Goes in both ears and out the other? But you only have 2 ears.” The student replied, “You see, I’m hopeless in math, too.”
Have past regrets, stupid decisions, your lack of self-discipline or your problems convinced you that you never will become the person God meant for you to be. You might have had people in your life who said to words similar to these: “You never will amount to anything.” Or “You’ll always be a klutz.” Or “You dummy.”
God never speaks hurtful, demoralizing words to us. Rather God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8). “For I am your God, I will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not; I will help you.’’ (Isaiah 41:13).
I remind you of these encouraging Bible verses because God has plans for your life, plans to give you a hopeful future. In fact, God wants the very best for you. He really does. Tucked away at the end of the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians is a Bible verse that seems to leap from the page. I’m thinking this single verse shows the steps we can take to move toward becoming the person God meant for us to be.
The verse begins with these words. The verse isn’t talking about being alert for suspicious packages or watching out for terrorists. Rather the phrase speaks of spiritual alertness—staying alert for anything that threatens your walk with the Lord. Here are some examples:
- The devil’s work – Satan wants nothing more than to bring you down.
- Temptation to sin – Sin constantly dangles its temptations in front of you. Don’t take the bait.
- Troubles and problems – Don’t allow your problems to turn you against God, drop out of church or stop believing God loves you.
Know What the Bible Teaches and Stick With It
Our verse goes one to say, “Stand firm in the faith.” You can’t become the person God wants you to be if you are not reading and studying the Bible. The reason is that the Bible is God’s words to you. Everything God wants you to know and believe can be found in the pages of the Bible.
Be Brave and Strong
That’s exactly what our verse tells us to do. Adrian Rogers told of a man who bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocket knife. Asked why he hadn’t cut off the lion’s head, the man replied: “Someone had already done that.”
God isn’t looking for cocky people, but for those who are genuinely brave and strong. Sometimes we have to be brave in the face of serious illness. At other times we are called upon to be strong in the face of temptation and pressure to do wrongly. Sometimes we need bravery when facing a challenge or opportunity that moves us out of our comfort zone.
Live Daily in God’s Strength
Here’s another thought on the phrase in our verse that says, “be strong.” Literally it is “be strengthened,” meaning this is strength that God works in us, not something we work up. For this reason the Bible says in Ephesians 6:10: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
We need God’s strength for several reasons:
- To win the battles of life
- To resist temptation
- To fulfill our responsibilities when it is not easy to do so
- To follow the vision for our life that God gives us
- To handle criticism
- To hold up when you get the rug pulled from underneath you
- To stand alone when you know you are right.
Becoming the person God wants you to be is a journey that takes a lifetime. The hope you get from following these principles allows you to say at the end of your life: “I fought the good fight. I finished the race assigned to me. I kept the faith.”