Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians closes with instructions about his upcoming ministry schedule. On the surface, there seems to be little significance for readers today. Right in the middle, however, he interjects four directives.
1 CORINTHIANS 16:13
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”
Paul’s intent is easily discerned even though we are not members of the Corinthian church. His words are uncharacteristically brief and empowering.
He knew Christians could be duped by the lies of prevailing culture. Anticipating a rise in evil before the “Day” when the Lord returns for the church. Paul lays out a proactive plan so that we won’t be caught unprepared (Heb. 10:25).
Many in my generation recognized Paul’s command to watch—to be on guard. We worked hard in our thirties, forties and into our fifties. We created awareness at pro-life rallies, picketed abortion clinics, established a legal precedent for homeschoolers and beautified highways and parks. And then as our families left the nest, we moved on.
Our adversary who walks around devouring like a lion, however, never gave up. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Judeo-Christian worldview is still under attack. We can no longer be spectators waiting for “someone” to fight evil while we lounge in recliners.
Get up-to-speed. Inform yourself about issues. Respond by confronting evil in our culture. Being on watch means you must be alert and ready to act.
STAND FAST IN THE FAITH
The directive to stand fast in the faith implies stability, so that you won’t be bullied or pushed around by anything contrary to the principles of God’s Word. The faith Paul mentions is actually the body of Scripture that forms the foundation for navigating through day-to-day life. Without a biblical foundation, anything goes.
- Are rioting and anarchy protected expressions of free speech?
- Does the defunding of police actually make sense when anarchists are destroying property and attacking people with deadly force?
- How can the killing of the unborn and newborns—the most vulnerable in society—be justified in light of how Jesus views children? (Lk. 17:1-2)
- Why could California go soft on pedophilia when innocent children are brutalized, emotionally and physically scarred for life, sold into sex slavery and murdered?
The Bible is clear on these issues. Yet, I’m amazed by the number of professing Christians on social media expressing support for candidates who embrace vile and unbiblical policies. In point of fact, one political party sanctions deviant policies in election propaganda. Strangely enough, some evangelicals actually support them.
The injunction to be brave involves more than putting on a plucky face or keeping a stiff upper lip. The phrase literally reads, “be manly,” and contrasts maturity with childishness (1 Cor. 13:11). Paul orders both Corinthian and modern-day North American Christians to grow up!
Stop acting like whiny toddlers who passively wait for everything to be done for them and start behaving like discerning, informed and responsible adults who positively impact culture (Mt. 5:13-16).
Locked together with the command to be brave is another directive to be strong. The phrase is literally translated “become strong.”
Gaining strength requires discipline both in the physical and spiritual realm. Just as physical strength is increased through exercise, we need to exercise our faith by learning what God requires, and then applying the principles of His Word in our daily lives.
With biblical principles ingrained in our thinking and governing every heart action, we’ll have the strength to withstand intimidation and challenge the world system that operates contrary to God’s Word.
Then almost as an afterthought, Paul clarifies his intent in the next verse and adds, “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Cor. 16:14). Paul knew that the body of Christ struggled not just with immorality, idolatry and division, but theological confusion. He offers advice spanning two millennia that is appropriate for 21st century church. Moderate all words and actions with love.
1) Watch, Stand Fast in the Faith. (Image in all forms used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: Pixabay/[No attribution required]/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2020 Charles E. McCracken, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken’s presentations have relevance for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.