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.

The Need To Be One

Ephesians 4:1-6 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

-Paul’s teachings were often a revolutionary concept to the Grecian world. This command to be humble was one of them. In Greece, only the slaves were expected to be humble…Grecians considered it a disgrace for someone to show humility…it was pride that was applauded in that culture.

-I find it interesting that in our culture today, pride is often lauded over humbleness, but it is “candy coated” by words such as “high self esteem”. But when you get down to the root of the problem…this concept of trying to increase one’s self esteem is just an excuse to be prideful and to think yourself better than others. It teaches people to learn to rely on themselves, and not others or even God.

-However, Paul says we need to be humble, lowly. After all we are to be like Christ and Christ did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life for us. We are all on equal footing before Christ…no one is considered greater than the other.

-Paul also urges Christians in this passage to be patient (long-suffering) and to be gentle (considerate toward others). What a revolutionary concept even in this culture today…to put others’ needs and feelings before our own! We are also to bear with one another in love, which essentially means we are to encourage each other and to carry each other through personal trials and suffering.

-Christians…we must protect our unity as Christians because Satan seeks to divide us. Satan uses one of the oldest war tactics in the book: divide and conquer. He attempts to create divisions among us, and when we are disunified we become weak and that’s when Satan comes in with the attack. You see, Satan knows that our potentialities are virtually endless when we are united as Christians under Christ. Our unity means power…and our power through the unity of Christ spells out defeat to the Enemy.

-It is the unity of God’s people which is a sign to the world of who Christ is. The more people united under one belief, the more “believable” our beliefs become to the world. Satan knows this and is doing everything he can to keep the body of Christ (the church) from being united by creating negative thoughts in the individual believers and a general sense of moral apathy and malaise within the churches. Satan suggests to individuals, “why bother going to church? Why bother ministering? It’s no use. People will just believe what they want to believe. Besides…you’re okay with God on your own. You don’t need to fellowship with other believers.” And then that person gives in to Satan’s suggestions and forsakes hearing the teachings in church…forsakes fellowship with other believers. Then that individual becomes divided from the rest of the body of Christ allowing Satan to attack that person through worldly influences.

-The same tactic is used on the church too. As long as churches continue to argue amongst themselves about petty issues, they will continue to be disunified which makes the church as a whole more vulnerable to Satanic attacks.

-Instead of giving into the disunity, the negative attitudes, and the feelings of moral and spiritual apathy, we Christians are to counterattack by stirring each other up toward love for each other and the lost. We are to speak good, encouraging words to each other and do good for one another as we see the coming of Christ nearing. When Christ returns to gather His church, we must be seen as blameless and righteous in His eyes…He gave His life up for us and labors our case daily before the Father…the least we can do is be peacemakers to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and to follow Christ and His commands to us.