It is hard to believe that this is the last blog for the 1 Corinthians series. Lord willing in two weeks from the time of this writing I will be preaching on 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. However, there are a couple of important sections towards the end of this chapter.
The first section is covered in verses 13 and 14, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.” Paul says “be watchful” in the opening of verse 13. He was alerting the Corinthian believers to ever present dangers. Peter would say in 1 Peter. 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” We as Christians should always be on alert because spiritual warfare is continuously occurring. Paul then says “stand fast in the faith.” This phrase seems to carry a meaning of a soldier standing guard. We are to hold our positions at all costs. That is something Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Paul talked about the armor of God in Ephesians 6. It would have conjured up images for the Ephesian Christians of the Roman soldiers armor. Their armor was designed to protect their front. As long as they held their position or were advancing forward, they were protected. However, if they turned and retreated they opened themselves up to deadly attacks. The same is certainly true for Christians. We are to hold our convictions to the Word and the mission and constantly be pressing forward. When we take our eyes off of our calling and mission, in a sense we are retreating and opening ourselves up to attacks from satan. The next phrase in verse 13 in the King James says “quit you like men.” Literally translated the phrase means to act like men. Literally Paul is telling the Corinthians to not be timid or fearful. He is saying don’t be a coward. He is not telling us to be mean or hateful, rather he is again just continuing to call the Corinthians and us to press forward with our message to fulfill the mission. Paul knew that attacks were going to happen, and so he is trying to encourage them to keep moving in spite of them. I heard a professor say one time, “Christianity is not for the faint of heart or the timid.” He was right. We must stand our ground because we are standing on the truth as long as we are standing on the Word of God. The last phrase is “be strong.” It is similar to what Paul said in Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” In all things we must trust and depend on God knowing He will sustain us to the very end. A great verse to remind us of this is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Paul then says in verse 14, “Let all your things be done with charity.” Paul talked about love (charity) in chapter 13, and that without it everything we do is really useless. Therefore, before we do something we really need to ask ourselves, how is this going to show God I love Him or show my love for others? 1 Peter 4:8 tells us, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” Many times people are willing to forgive you more easily if they know that you love them. And so that is the charge for all Christians, to do everything based on love for God and love for others, which is what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 22:37-39.
The second section is found in verses 19-22. It is the names that Paul lists. At the end of every book Paul wrote he rattled off some names. It is a great reminder that we as Christians cannot do this alone. We need each other. Paul said in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” We could list more and more verses on this subject, but we will stop here. God gave Christians the church not only for the work of ministry, but also to serve as an encouragement to each other. Why do we need encouragement? See the previous point of this post. The Christian life is difficult. Pastors need to be CEO’s of the church God has called them to. In this case CEO stands for Chief Encouragement Officer. Yes pastors are to spend hours studying and praying. We should spend time sharing the Gospel and inviting people to church. But we should also spend time encouraging those who are already here. So many times churches work so hard to get people into the church, but once they come in they become forgotten or a means to an end. No one wants to feel like a project or a number. Everyone needs to be encouraged, especially when they make a mistake. The church should be a place for the walking wounded come in, hear about the God who loved them enough to die for them, offers them a gift of salvation, understands their pain, and is with them everywhere they go as a Christian. Churches need to preach the Word, exhort their members to live a life of holiness and obedience, and encourage one another. Then we might be a people like the disciples in the book of Acts and have it be said about us, “these that have turned the world upside down.”
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him