Years ago, in my first year of nursing, I was talking with a patient as the end of the evening shift neared. As I was about to go off duty, I said good night and the patient quietly said 'do you have a few minutes?' I didn't speak, just sat on the side of the bed and listened as significant things of the heart came via the lips of this woman. As I walked into the Nurses home 45 minutes later the home 'sister in charge' enquired as to why I was so late getting off duty. I quickly explained and she simply said (words to the effect of) "listen carefully to the things people share at the end of a conversation - often they are very profound".
At first glance it seems that Paul is concluding with insignificant passing comments yet the reality is very different. Far from simply offering parting comments and encouraging words, Paul summarises key themes addressed in the letter by demonstrating that what he has taught on in this letter really are the inspired words of God. He demonstrates his love and concern for them, the care and interest that others have in them and the open doors for the gospel that are emerging.
In the midst of these closing verses, we find Paul encouraging the Corinthian Church in very practical ways (see vs 13) so that they might integrate teaching on the faith with living out the faith. "Be on your guard, stand firm in the Faith, be strong and courageous, and do everything in love". The real tests of courage and standing firm and strong are found in the way a person remains faithful when no body but God is looking and when in the face of pain and discouragement, members of the body of Christ live their faith in love of God and of neighbour. How might you live your life in community with other disciples, so that you do everything in love as you stand firm in the faith of Jesus the King.