“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13, ESV)
Many years ago, I discipled a young couple. The man was Vietnamese and the woman was Burmese. They met at an English as a third language course. The first night that we met, the man came to faith in Jesus as I pointed him to verses in his Vietnamese Bible and drew pictures as I tried to explain in English.
We met every week for over a year and the couple grew in the faith. One evening, they told me that they wanted to get married and they wanted me to counsel them in what marriage was all about. This I did with some materials that my pastor gave me.
When it came time for the wedding, our pastor conducted the ceremony, but they had me ensure that certain traditions could be observed in it. One of the traditions that struck me was that the groom would walk down the aisle wearing a bag and a sword. I believe that it was a tradition from the Burmese culture. It symbolized that the husband would take up his role of being the provider and protector for the family. Of course, in the family, the wife would fulfill her role of home keeper.
It is interesting, that around the world, men have historically been seen in this particular role as provider and protector. In these two roles, men are expected to demonstrate courage. In this passage, Paul tells the church to “act like men.” The believers are to demonstrate courage.
Now, the opposite of being a man is to be a child. Children are weak and often fearful. They may wake in the middle of the night crying out because they are afraid of what might be lurking in the closet of a dark room. Men on the other hand have overcome childish fears and have learned how to handle fears in life with courage.
Those in the church at Corinth were not acting as men, but infants in Christ. Remember that there were factions in the church, abuses in worship, selfishness, and many sorts of fleshly conduct. They were not acting like men. Paul commanded authentic Christians to act with spiritually mature courage.
There are many things in this world that will strike fear into people. We often fear failure. We fear the dangers that beset us. We may fear the future. We have spiritual forces of evil arrayed against us. This can drive us to fear also. Yet, the one thing that will always overcome fear is true faith. It is that ability to trust God in His sovereignty. I heard Alistair Begg preach a sermon once where he stated that he rested his head on the pillow of God’s sovereignty. True faith is trusting that God is in control in every situation that we might find ourselves in life, whether good or bad.
Moreover, it takes great courage to stand up against evil. It takes courage to witness. It takes courage to press on when it seems that failure is the only outcome. It takes courage to speak to someone when they are walking off the path of righteousness. It takes courage to do things that the Lord calls you to do that you have never done before. The courage to meet these challenges and many others will only come by faith.
Act like men!