“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
– 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Men, this Scripture has been on my heart for several weeks now, and the Holy Spirit has been urging me to write what’s on my heart for us. Wives, please read this with a soft heart, so you can encourage your husband. I have spoken these verses to many men who were wrestling with all manner of things with which men struggle:
> Being a God-honoring Christian Dad and Husband in ALL spheres of life, and being an active and present spiritual leader of your family.
> Being the same man that you are at church on Sunday morning as you are on Friday nights with friends.
> Knowing the fine line: Being too harsh and quick to discipline your kids VERSUS Being lax and permissive.
> Balance in life: Being productive with strong work ethic in your career VERSUS Being present, active and pouring into both your family and your faith and the church.
In these 2 verses, Paul calls men to action with 5 separate – but interconnected – action phrases. Our faith is not passive because “faith apart from works is dead” – James 2:26; and because Paul admonishes us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” – Phil 2:12; and Paul encouraged Timothy to “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” – 1 Tim 6:12.
Some of you may be saying, “Barron, I don’t need more work”, and I would contend that this statement is exactly what the enemy wants you to say and believe. Let that sink in for a moment…breathe…and read on. I would contend that if you are so worn out from working to fill your earthly storehouses, then you need this truth the most. You can’t earn the grace that God has freely given to you in Christ Jesus, but that truth must produce a real, visible, outward overflow to others because “a good tree produces good fruit” – Matt 7:17. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Cor 5:17Because of this verse, you can’t claim to be a Believer and Follower of Christ if there is no obvious evidence in all spheres of your life that proves your claim to be true; in other words – from an outsider’s point of view – your life looks no different than those who don’t live for Jesus.
If you knew that Jesus was going to return in all His glory tonight, would you still plop down on your sofa, pop a beer and watch Game of Thrones and let everyone else in your home be glued to their devices watching and scrolling through who knows what?
So, if we really believe that JESUS CHRIST IS GOING TO RETURN, then why don’t our lives actively and obviously reflect that we believe it? Why do we live like Jesus wasn’t speaking to us when He said, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning… The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” – Luke 12:35, 40?
So what do we do with all this work that is set in front of us?
Men, here’s the bitter reality: you’re never going to “nail it” in perfection by your own efforts on this side of glory. But here is the Good News that was revealed around 700-years before Jesus came to earth: “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement (punishment) that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5. Then Jesus said, “It is finished” – John 19:30 on the cross. Jesus took action on our behalf (that we cannot do on our own behalf), but we still have a lot of work to do in this life on this earth as we await His return. And it can’t be done in a God-glorifying way without the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, as He sanctifies us from one degree to the next. Take a knee, admit to God that you need His help and can’t do it alone. Buckle-up, and let’s look at the 5 actions to which Paul calls us:
Pastor Ryan (The Mount Church) had a sermon theme earlier this year “Look Up!” Look Up from your device, your TV screen, your treadmill, your laptop…and recognize that Jesus has called you to more. Like a sentry, you are actively on the defense and keeping watch over the souls that the good Lord has entrusted to you in your household…and that includes YOU.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy” – John 10:10
“Stand firm in the faith“
The weather; sports; politics…these things change and pass like the wind. Our time is limited, so are you applying yourself more to this stuff than to the commission to which Jesus has called you?
“Resist (the devil), firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” – 1 Peter 5:9
“…always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” – 1 Peter 3:15
“Act like men“
Is there any other “man” to ever walk the earth that we should strain to emulate more than Jesus? With that in mind, do you picture Jesus as a macho man with a puffed out chest and cocky swagger, with arrogance and bravado oozing from His speech? NO. “Behold, your King comes unto you, meek” – Matt 21:5. So, who are you?
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” – Ephesians 5:1
“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:26
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” – Ephesians 5:25,28
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
The strength to be the man that Jesus called you to be does not come from you.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” – 1 Peter 5:10
“Let all that you do be done in love.“
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John:8
“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John:19
“Let love be genuine. (Detest) what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” – Romans 12:9
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5:2
We will be known as Christians – Christ followers – by our love and forgiveness because we have known the Greatest Love and the Greatest Forgiveness in Christ Jesus our Lord because of God’s Great Grace. May this truth wash over you and overflow to your fellow man in response to Jesus’ words:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” – John 15:12-14