By Rev. Jim Person
“Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NRSV
I have often been skeptical of those who seem to be able to bend almost any verse of scripture to be used as a “proof text” for their particular agenda. But I also believe that when we have our minds fixed on a problem or situation for which we are trying to find help, we have a tendency to see what we are looking for. Such was the case with me recently when my morning devotions lead me to ponder the verses above from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
As you might guess from my writing of this blog, my thoughts are often tending toward matters of health, wellness, and fitness. When I read those verses from Corinthians it struck me that they offer good advice for the pursuit of more healthful living, though I’m sure that’s not what Paul had in mind.
Paul’s advice to “keep alert” is another way of calling our attention to what is one of the hot topics in wellness today, mindfulness. Keep alert for temptations to eat unhealthfully. Be mindful of feelings of fullness and stop when you have had enough. Keep alert for lackadaisical attitudes that keep you from doing what you really want to do, like exercise. Be mindful of how and with whom you spend your time, especially when you have choices.
“Stand firm in your faith” believing that God wants what is best for you and wants you to want what’s best for you, too. Honor the Creator by caring for the creature. “Be courageous”, it’s not always easy to do what is right for you when others don’t have to, or simply don’t, follow the same standards. No one likes to be “that person”, but we can find ways to do what we know is best without being offensive about it. “Be strong” reiterates that it is sometimes difficult to stand by our principles, but it can be done.
While the advice above might seem like a list of commands, orders, and exhortations, verse fourteen puts it all in perspective. “Let all that you do be done in love”, love for yourself that compels you to take the best care of yourself possible, love for others as you do what you can to have as many quality years as possible with your family and loved ones and to be an example to others of loving self-care. And, most of all, love for God who gives us life as a gift to be used in honoring, praising, and worshipping our Creator.
Forgive me if I’ve done what I said I am suspicious of others for doing, but sometimes a verse or passage of scripture speaks to us in ways we just can’t ignore. Whether it be health, wellness, and fitness or any other topic of importance, let us thank God for the Living Word that can speak to such a variety of people in such a variety of ways.