A Few Last Words
“Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.“ – Vs -13 NLT
As Paul closes out this letter to the Corinthians believers, he gives them a few last words to encourage them in their faith until he should get to see them again. Verse 13 of 1 Corinthians 16 has become one of my favorites over the last few years. It has actually been one of the key verses I have used in our ministry to men at Christ Chapel for almost five years. In the New American Standard Version it reads this way, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” It is a powerful call to men that gives them four action items to consider. But the truth is, this verse is not just for men. It is for all of us as believers.
Be on guard
We must be ready at all times. Like sentries guarding the gate to a city, we must have our eyes open to the realities of the spiritual war in which we are engaged. We can’t afford to act as if we live in peacetime. We can’t fall asleep at our post and not expect the enemy to back off in his relentless attach against us. We are to remain alert, awake, vigilant – at all times. The Greek word means “to take heed lest through remission (lack of labor) and indolence (laziness) some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.” We’ve got to remain spiritually alert.
Stand true to what you believe
Stand firm. Hold your ground. Paul urges us to persevere and not give up. But we are to persevere based on the truth of what it is we say we believe. Do you believe God is in control? Then stand firm. Do you believe Jesus died for your sins? Then stand firm. Do you believe the Holy Spirit lives within you and provides the power you need to live the life you’ve been called to live? Then stand firm. We are to stand firm based on the faith we have in truth of the gospel. We are not to waver from it. Yet that is exactly what the enemy wants us to do. Which is why we must remain alert. He wants to get us off focus and off task. He wants us to waver in unbelief. We must stand true to what we believe.
Act like men. The actual Greek word means “to show yourself a man.” Paul is saying we are to act like men, not boys. It is almost as if he is saying, “act your age!” We are to grow up and man up. We are soldiers in the army of God and we have a mission to accomplish. We must not cower in fear or run away from the battle. We must engage. Not in our own strength, but in the power of God. He is the Lord of Hosts – the Lord of armies. We fight for the winning side. So be courageous.
This is not a call to become something we are not. It is a call to increase in what we already have. To grow in our strength. The Greek means “to increase in strength; to be strengthened.” As we are alert, stand firm, and show courage, we will increase in strength. We will see our faith increased. We will see our patience increased. We will see our hope increased. As we fight alongside God, we will grow stronger. We will see His power revealed in and around our lives and our strength will increase.
Four powerful admonitions we all need to hear. But Paul doesn’t stop there. He adds one more thing. In the next verse he adds to one little caveat: “And everything you do must be done with love” (Vs 14 NLT). Love must permeate all we do. Love is why I stay alert, show courage, act like a man, and grow in strength. I am to be motivated by love for others. I am alert so that I can protect and defend those around me. I am courageous so that I can encourage the faint-hearted. I act like a man because I have a job to do and I care for others. As I grow in strength I am able to love others even more. Everything I do is to be done with an attitude of selfless, sacrificial love.
We live in difficult days, but God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He has given us one another. He has given us His Spirit. He has provided us with His power. He has showered us with His love. So, be on guard, stand true to what you believe, be courageous, be strong, and let everything you do be done with love.
Father, may these verses be a picture of my life. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men