1 Corinthians 16.13-14
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
The central message of the passage is: “Act like an adult.” The other four commands are descriptions of what it means to act like an adult.
Let’s consider the first of these commands: Be watchful. This is a military metaphor. It is telling us to be on guard. The Greek word for “watchful” is gregoreo, and it means to be awake, alert, and aware. The negative command would be: Don’t fall asleep at your post!
It’s about having discernment and situational awareness. Recognize what is going on in any given situation. There are enemies out there who will attack you, your family, and the Christian community. Being watchful is a responsibility for mature adults. Here is what we must do to be watchful:
Understand the times. ”And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). The Issacharites were noted for their wisdom. They had “understanding of the times,” that is, they were astute and perceptive. They could see how things were going socially, spiritually, and politically.
Moreover, their discernment was practical: “to know what Israel ought to do.” It should be so with Christian people also: We need to understand the times in which we live, that we might know how best to serve the Lord and our own generation.
Guard your heart. “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4.23). Because of the critical role the heart plays in our life, this is one of the most important commands in all of the Bible.
Your heart is the place where your mind, emotions, and spirit intersect to produce your decisions and actions. You must pay attention and not allow anything to get into your heart that would damage your ability to see clearly, think effectively, and make wise decisions. You must protect yourself against negative thoughts, false beliefs, and corrupting influences.
Guard your family. Marriage and family are central to the Christian faith, and foundational to a healthy society. Being watchful means safeguarding God’s principles for your family. Scripture gives many instructions to husbands and wives, parents, and children.
- Wives are admonished to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5.22-24)
- Husbands are admonished to “love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5.25-29)
- Children are admonished to “obey your parents in the Lord.” (Ephesians 6.1)
- Fathers are admonished to “bring up your children in the disciplined and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6.4).
Guard the church. The church is the fellowship of Christ on earth. It is the kingdom community within whom and through whom the Lord ministers to the world. The church is founded on the person and work of Jesus, the truth of scripture, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of the saints. We must protect those fundamental elements of the church and never compromise.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4.1-3)
More tomorrow …