Journal 1 Cor 16 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” I Cor 16:13-14
Observation: Like a good father, Paul appears to be winding up his letter with tidbits of wisdom and direction. I can almost hear Obi Wan: “Don’t give in to the dark side, Luke…”
Analysis: I have wondered what Paul meant of “Act like men…”
I suppose if will differ depending on my imagination of what a Man is? I notice that Paul didn’t say, “Act like godly men.” The adjective would have caused me to shift a gear into “Christian Man” mode.
I think that there is an implication of what a man is supposed to be like, even in the natural. Of course, wracked by sin the way I am it is difficult at time to separate sin-natural from any other vision of man.
The two verses, broken down, BUT put back together gives me a clue. Here are my “face in the mirror” questions:
- Watchful: Am I paying attention, not only to my own walk (conduct) but for others as well? For sure I need to examine myself often (if not daily) to see if I am in the faith—basically to see if I am ship-shape, aligned to the objective(s), not distracted from the narrow path. I also need to assure myself I am not walking/conducting myself in a bubble—unknown to all but the Spirit and the mirror.
- Standing firm in the faith: I could say to myself “I am saved and continue believing; therefore, I am firm in the faith.” How so far off the mark I would be. It all goes back to the parable of the soils: If I am rich soil (like I would think myself to be), then roots should be reaching for nutrients daily. What is the root of my faith? The Gospel. So: am I growing in the knowledge of the Gospel or not? And if I am, then in ever-increasing faith I stand firm. Not growing? Weak roots and tenacious foundations…
- Act like men: One aspect of man that I have learned from my Dad is that men do what is right, without regard for their own desires or welfare. While I have learned that, I haven’t always done that. Men should not be self-serving or selfish: nobody that knows me well can testify of that in me. Sin runs rampant in me and It is a daily battle. But a man has a backbone, and a godly man has a godly backbone; not in stubborn willfulness, but in tenacious grip of the Truth.
- Do all in love: Love is not the ooey-gooey, soft-sided, flabby conduct AND THOUGHT that is associated with the idea of non-judgmentalism (I have mine, you have yours, everything is cool…) but is softly and gently persuasive communication of conviction.
What do I stand for? Do I even know? The Spirit helps me with these discussion points to inquire from Him.
Prayer: Lord God, I remember that Men’s Conference in 2004 where the speaker started off “Men! And I assume I am talking to Men…” This one sentence had a profound impact from there on and even today. Make me continue that path, becoming more manly, in a godly manner, daily. AMEN.