“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13–14
I feel like a rod has just been tapped down my spine when I hear, “Stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” I don’t tend to get the same feeling when I read the start of this passage: “Be watchful.”
The thing is, for most, being watchful tends not to be as exciting or inspiring. But the reality is, it is the key to effectively stand firm, to act like men, and to be strong. “Be watchful” is not the passive voice—it is an imperative command. Another use of the word “watchful” is used to communicate guarding. So another translation could be, “Be on guard, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
I used to work in law enforcement, and my job involved a large amount of patrolling. Once I knew what the threats were that I was guarding against, then I was able to go out and protect the area entrusted to me.
This passage calls us all to the same type of work. To be watchful means you know whom you are protecting and what you are protecting them from. Not only are we entrusted with guarding, but we are empowered with a legal standing and authority to protect.
God, through Christ, has adopted us into his family and called us to steward and protect what he has given us authority over. This might be your family, your Community Group, or even your congregation. To be effective, you need to know you have been adopted into a family that has “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). You need to know we have a real enemy who is looking to destroy and devour (1 Peter 5:8). You need to know you have the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10) to use when the enemy attacks.
So, be on guard, patrol your area of authority and influence to keep the enemy at bay—and above all, do all of this out of love for those whom you are protecting.