“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13, ESV)
In our society today, there is a quest for authentic manhood. As a young boy, I wanted to be a man, a real man. I thought that a real man was one who was strong, one who would stand up for what was right, one who had convictions and would not waver. I watched my dad and what he did. He taught me the same things. These were good virtues. However, as I watched him, I saw other things as well. There was a lot of profanity, coarse joking, drinking of alcohol, pornography. My understanding of real manhood was being developed. However, there was some good and some bad in my understanding.
As I grew and went off to college, my understanding further developed. The more abase side of life became the norm among those with whom I associated. As I entered the military, through my training, I came to the conclusion that real manhood meant being the toughest fighter who was able to endure suffering for a noble cause. As I put all this together, I developed a view of what a real man was. Yet, it was not until 1983 when the Lord saved me that I began questioning my views.
Years later, I answered the Lord’s call to the pastorate. There I began to see the affects of the false views of authentic manhood in the lives of others, and how it affected families. I saw families torn, men emotionally emasculated by women, children developing strange and twisted views of what real men and real women were.
In this verse, Paul gives five commands that define authentic manhood. Yet, these are not just virtues for real men. They are also virtues that should apply to both men and women who seek to be authentic Christians. First Paul wrote, “Be watchful,” gregoreo, a word that comes from the verb egeiro, mean to arouse from sleep (Strong G1127, 1453).Paul is telling the believer to wake up and be on the watch. Jesus gave this exhortation in His Olivet Discourse, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42, KJV). Peter used the same verb, gregoreo, when he wrote, “be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, KJV). There is broad application to this command. We must stay alert to ensure we are at the masters work since we do not know when the Lord will return. Moreover, we must do so, with a true understanding that the devil is actively working to throw snares of diversions and temptations in our way to keep us from fulfilling our calling. We must stay awake, alert, we must be diligent.
The second command is that for believers to be authentic Christians, we must endeavor to “stand firm in the faith.” The verb “stand,” steko, is to be stationary, meaning to persevere (Strong G4739). Believers must stand fast on the truths of Scripture. We must stand fast on the truth of the gospel. We must stand fast, being immovable in the faith. Today, many churches and Christians are trampling under foot the precious truths of God. They are allowing the onslaught of contemporary culture to morph our understanding of God’s word and ways into a culturally relevant model which undermines the veracity of the Bible. Paul wrote to Timothy that the church, which is the assembly of believers is to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15, KJV).
These are the first two of the five commands in this verse that Paul gave to believers. We must remain awake, alert to fulfill the mission to which we were called, and we must stand firm in the truth of the faith. These are marks of authentic Christianity.