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.

I say this weeping: Church it’s time to humble ourselves!

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This verse says that if God’s people humble themselves He will heal our land, not the lost or deceived who don’t know any better.  When will God’s people stop arguing and dividing about their pet doctrines?  Don’t you realize that if you need people to agree with you, for you to Love and accept them as a child of God, you are in pride?  What will you say to God when you approach His throne, and people who God sent to you were reprimanded for not agreeing with your doctrine?  Jesus said Love your enemies.  He used the greek word agape in this verse.  Agape is unconditional perfect Love.  This kind of love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.  Do you think you will have any excuse that could possibly justify you not obeying the Lord’s command?

We are talking about real people here, whom God dearly Loves.  Do you not remember how you were saved, how you were a disgusting, filthy sinner, and how God lifted you up and saved you in the midst of being a sinner?  What makes you think God, treats other sinners more harshly?  What gives you the right to push away the beloved of God, for the sake of you being right?  When you get to heaven, is it really going to matter that you defended your doctrine?  Or is Jesus going to want to see that every person who came across your path was empowered to get closer to Jesus, and experienced His Love through you?  When you get to heaven, is it really going to matter that you knew the Bible better than everyone else, or that you knew the King’s heart for the people He Loved and you were moved by His heart?  When you teach about Jesus, do people have to go through you to learn about Jesus, or can they have the relationship that Jesus died on the cross for them to have? Are you leading people to Jesus or to your doctrine?

It’s time for the church to start acting like a real family that actually Loves one another.  We are brothers and sisters despite our differences.  (For those of you who actually need me to say it, I don’t mean mormons or jehovah’s witness)  When you have family over to your house, for example: your actual brother or sister or mom or dad, do you not allow them to come to your house because of theological differences?  Do you constantly berate them for not believing as you do?  Do you find forums online to post on to tell the whole world how wrong your brother or sister or mom or dad is and how they are deceived?  When people talk about your mom or dad or brother or sister, is the first thing that comes out of your mouth a warning about how deceived they are?  No! Of Course Not!  Why do people think church family is any different?  It is something to pray and think about.

This is something I have consistently heard God saying to the church “Stop building your own kingdoms around your doctrine, instead humble yourselves so you can build and expand My Kingdom!  If you seek first and focus on my Kingdom and my righteousness, all of the rest of the things you are anxious about, that I told you to not be anxious about, will be taken care of! ”

Jason Upton – Dying Star

By His Grace Alone,

Machew