Do Everything in Love

Last year our church had a sermon series entitled Last Man Standing that was one of my favorites of the year and really impacted my life in 2016. My favorite in the series is the one entitled Men or Boys . I had written a post Act Like Men about this back then that is worth the few minutes to read and will give plenty of context into this post.

One of the verses I highlighted in that post was 1 Corinthians 16:13-14;

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.

The final part of that, “Do everything in love,” provides context for all that we are implored with doing in the first part of the verse. You could change the wording slightly and this verse becomes;

Be on your guard, in love.
Stand firm in the faith, in love.
Be men of courage, in love.
Be strong, in love.

A sidebar on word etymology.
I love learning more about the origins of the words we use as they are often far different from how we use them today. And when ancient texts, like the Bible are translated into our modern language often words are used that have the proper meaning, but our modern interpretation of those words could be different. So I enjoy looking at where the words come from and even learning the Greek or Hebrew that the Bible was originally written in so as to better understand the original meaning.

God’s Word doesn’t change and is true to what God is wanting us to hear, however our imperfect language that we use today can sometimes lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations if you are not careful. While God will let His truth come through regardless of what language you read His Word in, it does help to understand what the writers were originally trying to convey.

The sentences sound a bit strange in our modern vernacular, but when you look at the original language the word for love used in the 14th verse is, agape. Of all the different words for love used throughout the Bible, agape is used to indicate the highest form of love. Often used to indicate the love God has for us or we have for God. It is a universal, unconditional love that is there regardless of circumstances.

In the King James version, this is translated as ‘charity’ which while we use that word typically as “benevolence for the poor”, it’s older usages from which it originated was defined more like “Christian love of one’s fellows.”

So what is being said here in this verse? What Paul was trying to tell his readers, is everything should be done in love to God. By doing these in love, we should be like Christ. Being like Christ should be the foundation for every decision we make and every action we take.

Be on Guard

As Christians we have a powerful enemy. One that tempts and attacks continuously, trying to thwart our work for God. So in that we should;

Watch against Evil: We need to watch for the evil in this world, but do so in the context of love. When we have the love of God in us and that love comes out from us, evil becomes easier to spot. With that context, we can judge our actions and the actions of others in that light. Does that activity we are about to take glorify God and show the love of Christ to those that might witness our actions? If not, be on guard. Do the words we speak to our spouse share the same love that God shares to us? If not, be on guard against those words.

That meaning of being on guard has us looking for negatives. But we should also be looking for the positives, for example, we should be on guard looking for opportunities to do good. James 2:14-26 tells us that faith without action is dead;

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. -James 2:17

We should be on guard to see those opportunities that God puts in front of us every day to do good. It could be something big and in the open like being on mission over seas. It could be as small as a smile to a stranger. In fact, I believe those little things can have a big impact for God’s kingdom and they are simple easy things to do. But we need to be on guard to seize the opportunities we are given.

Stand Firm in the Faith

We need to stand firm in the faith that was given to us by the Word of God.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

We need to persevere in the faith, for if we don’t than this is an evidence that we never had the saving faith in the first place. Judas Iscariot, for example, eventually showed that he was not a true believer.

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. -Hebrews 3:14

A hallmark of a Christian saving faith, is continuing till the end. Many will hate Christians, they will criticize you, they will mock you, they may even try to harm or kill you…but the perseverance in persecution will be a sure sign of salvation.

Remembering the promises of God’s love will help us keep on. God’s love will never fail us and when we remember that, keeping our faith becomes so much easier. And when we stand firm in faith, showing the love of God to others, even those that oppose us, becomes natural.

Be men of courage

Men our judged by many things these days. Physical strength, money and possessions, their successes and status. But John MacArthur says it well in his sermon, How to Be a Man of Courage;

There is a trait that I think distinguishes a man most distinctively, the solitary foundation of manhood. And I want to sum it up in one word, it’s the word fortitude….Now I know that’s not an often used word today and that’s why I picked it. It’s not one that has a lot of baggage. It’s one that may come to you sort of from out of left field and you’re wondering what it means. Let me tell you what it means. Webster’s dictionary says, “Fortitude is that strength or firmness of mind, courage of soul which enables a person to encounter danger with coolness, to bear pain or adversity without murmuring, depression or despondency.” And then we could sum that up by saying, “Fortitude is courage built on strength of soul.” Fortitude is a good word because it combines courage with strength but it also has a third component and that is conviction. Fortitude is the combination of those three things: conviction, courage and strength.

We are to have courage in our faith, we are to be strong in our faith and we are to be sure of our faith. But remember this is all to be done in love. The love is a critical part. There are many strong and courageous people that believe strongly in something, but without the love, they can just become tyrants. We as Christan’s are called to have fortitude, but to be loving as well.

John again sums this is up very well;

They know that they must have the truth, they must have unwavering conviction about the truth, they must have the courage to stand for those convictions and the strength to withstand the assault. That’s what defines a man. A man is known by his character, by his fortitude.

 

Be Strong

With all these others, we are to be strong. We should put all our energy which God has provided in maintaining the truth. When we exercise this faith, we become spiritually stronger. When I physically exercise, I become physically stronger. It is no different when exercise our faith. When we do so, our faith become stronger and we are able to resist the enemy even more effectively.

The word used for be strong here krataióō is which is translated to be strengthened in a passive voice. The other actions talks about previously in the verse are things we need to do, things we can take action on. This call to be strong is a willingness to all God to strengthen us. Something God does to us and for us, not something we can do for ourselves. The thing we must do is submit ourselves to Him so He can make us strong in the faith. The more we submit, the stronger God can make us. When we become strong in the faith, we are able to do the others much more effectively.

In Love

So all these things Paul is admonishing us to do and we do them in love like Christ loved, they will draw us closer to Christ giving us the strength and courage to endure to the end and resist the enemy and allows us to be strong in the faith so that others can see the love of Christ in us.

The love is the key part to all of these. Christ loved us even though we are sinners and gave us a pathway to God that we could never follow on our own. Through Christ we can be made strong and fearless. Through Christ we can be sure we can persevere until the end. Though Christ we can be on guard against the enemy and be watchful of those opportunities that God gives us to serve. And through Christ we can share the love that he has shared with us.

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Act Like Men

In my last post I shared a recent sermon on being a Gift to woman. The sermon if from a series our church is doing called, “Last Man Standing”. I woke up this morning at 4am, unable to sleep and came down and began thinking about the next post I wanted to write. I went back and began watching the first sermon in the series, entitled Men or Boys. Follow the link and watch if you desire, it really is good.  This post feeds off of that sermon.

This sermon was one that has moved me greatly, perhaps more than most. It reminds us that we were made men by God, and we should act like it. Now this may go against what our common culture teaches us today. Today, we don’t want boys to act like boys and we don’t like it when men act like men. But what does “acting like men” really mean?

In Genesis 1:27, we read;

So God created people in His own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.

God created us to reflect his image in us. He created men to be fully men, to show the masculinity of God, to provide the protection of God, to have the strength of God, the initiative of God. To reflect the God that is always watching, always on guard. We are meant to reflect that half of God. When some part of that is missing in us, we are missing the full likeness of God. We are missing what God intended us to be. If we don’t have an example of that in our lives, we were not shown the full likeness of God.

I am lucky and have a father that was a great example to me. He was strong and hard working, yet was always present in our lives and loved us unconditionally. Even when I was being disciplined, or I had disappointed him, I knew he still loved me. He was quiet yet you always knew that with him there, we were protected. So not only can I look to Jesus, but my earthly father showed me what it was like to be a man.

Women, you were created to reflect the other half of God. The compassion, the nurture, the love of God. If we don’t have the mother figure in our lives or one that was absent, we miss that half of God.

Paul was writing to the church at Corinth when he wrote these words. And note that he was speaking to the entire church.

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love.  -1 Corinthians 16:13

When he was saying be men of courage, he was telling us…to act like men. And not just us flawed men, but to act like the true man. As the title of the sermon series says, The Last Man Standing. Jesus, was the only man that lived the way a man is meant to live. We need to look towards Jesus whom reflected the glory and image of God.

We men are called to have the strength and courage of God to call it how it is. To have the initiative of God to speak out when we see sin. To have the truth of God in us to know what is not OK. We are called to be on guard and protect those we love. We as men need to stand up and be leaders.

What happens when we don’t? Well lets look back to Adam and Eve.

So she ate some of the fruit. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. Then he ate it too. -Genesis 3:6

Eve tends to get the bad reputation for being tempted and eating of the fruit. But Adam was with her! He was not acting like a man and keeping guard. He did not lead like God intended him to.

So men, be on your guard. Watch and pray for those in your life. Be present in their lives. Don’t just coast when you’re at home, with your family. Let them see you pray and make them a priority in your life.

Men, stand firm in the faith and be strong. Men we were made to fight. When we see the enemy coming at our family or at ourselves, use the weapons that God has given us and fight. Jesus taught us how to fight the enemy. But be tethered to God. Weapons are useless if we aren’t tethered to the one who gives us power.

Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” -John 19:10-11

Through the victory that Jesus had on the cross, he disarmed the enemy. Men, stand firm and look to the last man standing when the enemy comes your way.

Do everything in love. Let them see you live it out. People don’t care what we say, but what we do. Love them in the small, boring moments that no one but they will see. I’ve seen those who like to help those who have less, who need assistance. But it is not done from love, it is done selfishly to be sure that everyone sees how great they are. It is done to show others how generous THEY are, not to glorify God. They speak compassionately and actually do some kind things, but their actions towards those they love, their family and friends tell otherwise. I’ve stated before in another post, our lives may be the only Bible some people read.

I will end this post, the same way our sermon ended. With a short clip from the movie Courageous.

This applies to me as my heart is willing and courageous.

In my home, the decision has already been made.
You don’t have to ask who will guide my family, because by God’s grace, I will.
You don’t have to ask who will teach my children to follow Christ, because I will.
Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? I will.
Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family’s history? I will.
Who will pray for and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? I am their father. I will.

I accept this responsibility, and it is my privilege to embrace it.
I want the favor of God and his blessing on my home.

It’s time to rise up and answer the call that God has given to you and to say, “I will. I will. I will.”