Week of Monday, August 30 – Sunday, September 5
Man up! – Man as Defender

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. —1 Corinthians 16:13-14
There is a war going on all around us.  It is a war between light and darkness; it is a war between good and evil.  This is a war between the kingdom of God and the prince of this world.  At times it looks like Satan is advancing, winning, and taking prisoners.  Regardless of the fact that we know who ultimately wins that war, the battle rages on.  It rages on in our day, it rages on in our lives. It calls for us as men to stand and defend all that we hold dear.
As Paul concludes in 1 Corinthians, he is giving final instructions.  He talks about the offering for the needy saints in Jerusalem.  He talks about the upcoming visit of Apollos, the eloquent Bible teacher.  He talks about his own planned visit in the future.  Then in the middle of his laundry list of plans, he calls time-out, looks into our souls and gives us all a few staccato style, brief commands.  In fact, this is our theme verse for the Stand Courageous men’s conferences.  But Paul here sounds like a battle hardened general issuing urgent battlefield orders.  His words speak straight to the heart of every man who aspires to be a Defender.
First, he commands: Be Watchful!  This is a military metaphor.  The original Greek word translated “watch” means “to watch, be alert, be vigilant.” We are to be on the lookout for danger and the attacks of the enemy.   Peter says Satan is like a roaring lion roaming around seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:12).  There are all kinds of temptations to guard against and it is a close as your phone, tablet, and smart TV.  So “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Prov. 4:23 NLT)!
Second, Stand Firm in the Faith!  Paul said in the previous chapter (15:58) “Be steadfast, immovable....” The culture will call into question everything you believe about the Bible, the Christian faith, the value of a life made in the image of God, what constitutes a marriage ordained by God, human sexuality designed by God, etc.  Society will shame many into agreement that “the faith” is obsolete and irrelevant, even downright hateful and bigoted.  But you – Stand firm in the faith.  
Third, Be Manly!  Paul commands that we should “act like men.” Other translations are: “Be brave” or “Be courageous” but the Greek verb literally means, “Be men - constantly!”  The word refers to acquiring and exhibiting positive masculine qualities. We often say it this way: “Man up!”  It is also an appeal for maturity. To be a strong Christian, you must have the maturity of a full-grown man.  John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, is attributed with saying: “Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the Kingdom of God on earth.”  Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men.
Fourth, Be Strong!  Paul is not talking about physical strength, but spiritual strength. The Greek word used here for “be strong” refers to strength in action. So we’re to do something with this strength from the Lord.  We can only “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). We cannot afford to be weak in the battle. There’s too much at stake.  But here’s the good news: God wants to take your weakness and fill you with His power, for God told Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9; cf. v.4, 7).
Finally, not only must we watch, stand fast, act like men and be strong, courageous, and mature, we must Be Loving!  Paul says in v 14, “Let all that you do be done with love.” What is love, anyway? Love is putting others above self. Love is meeting the needs of others. Love is giving and sacrificing for the sake of others. Love is all about others!  Love motivated our Savior to give His life, pour it out on that cross, hold nothing back – just because He loved you and me! G.K Chesterton famously said: ““The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him”[1] (Illustrated London News, Jan. 14, 1911).
 To recap: The Bible clearly teaches that there is a war going on, largely unseen by the human eye, but it is all too real. The forces of evil are on the attack against the forces of God and righteousness. The world is full of temptations, trials, and lies. Will you stay on guard to these spiritual dangers? Will you stand firm in your faith against the attacks of skeptics? Will you act like men, be brave and run to the battle when others are running away?  Will you be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might?  And will you keep your heart tender, refuse to give in to bitterness and hatred, and always obey the greatest command, which is to put others first, in sacrifice and love?
 If you will take this challenge and appropriate the Lord’s power, you can become the kind of man described here: mature, firm in your convictions, strong, brave, and yet loving. In a world that is rushing toward the feminization of men, let’s be Christian men who will Stand Courageous!  Take these words to heart: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong and let all that you do be done in love. Let’s “Man up!”
  • As you survey the battlefield where you are, which of these brief commands given by Paul resonates most with you in this moment?   What is the greatest need as you see it?
  • As you read Paul’s words here, what is the most challenging command for you personally?  Why is that?  What can you do to move in that direction?
  • Ask God to take your weakness and fill you with His strength to Stand Courageous!
[1]Originally appeared in Illustrated London News, Jan. 14, 1911, which is cited at https://www.chesterton.org/quotations/war-and-politics/ accessed on 8/25/2021.