Stand firm, act like men. Do all in … what?
Yesterday when reading the Bible I came across one of my favorite Bible verses. In 1 Corinthians Paul is trying to encourage the church and he says something that many men’s Bible studies have memorized.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV)
This is an awesome verse. I can just see someone like William Wallace, a great warrior, standing in front of an army while waiting to be ambushed.
Face painted, looking fierce, walk back and forth in front of his army. Trying to encourage his men and give them the courage to stand through the night he starts to shout. “Be watchful,” he says, staring the men in the eyes as he passes by them in the chill night air. “Stand firm in faith,” he says, “act like men!” Then pulling out his claymore and pointing it towards the direction of the enemy army he yells “Be strong!”
You can hear the strength in his voice and all of the men shout, feeling fearless as they follow this warrior.
This is just such a great passage that really encourages men to stand apart, not to fall, and be warriors. Don’t fall into pornography, it’s a trap! Be watchful of your actions, of what your eyes wonder too. Watch what your family does and stand strong for them. Lead them. Because this is what a man is supposed to do!
And then I read the next verse and it kind of shattered this whole image of William Wallace.
Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV)
For some reason I just can’t see any strong warrior shouting this at the end of their battle cry. As men, we love to be strong, watchful, courageous. These are qualities we look up to in others and hope to have in ourselves.
But love? That doesn’t describe a warrior. You don’t see Navy SEALS talking about love. So why is Paul putting these statements together?
God obviously thinks that loving others is of supreme importance. Jesus tells us to love our enemie (Matthew 5:44) and tells us that loving God, and loving others, are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).
Then God gives us the ultimate example of love in the cross, where God did not conquer evil, but gave His only Son to die in the place of those who are rebelling against Him. Why? As John 3:16 says, Because God so loved.
Paul makes it clear that it doesn’t matter how faithful of a follower of God you are, or how awesome of a warrior you are, if you don’t have love and act out of love then you are nothing.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)
Trying to live our daily lives interacting with so many people is tough. We get short with our spouses because, often times because of pride. We start to get frustrated or angry at our kids, neighbors, or coworkers. And yet these very people are our mission field. We are called to be Christ to them. To love them.
In every interaction, no matter how difficult it is, we are told to love them.
Be strong, Christian brother. Stay strong in faith. Be watchful and ever vigilant. Act like men, and let all that you do be done in love.