Thursday, November 3, 2011

Standing Fast

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 16
     Paul says farewell to the Corinth church in this chapter.  He addresses some individually and the church as a whole.  He gives them a few last words of encouragement and advice.  Some of this encouragement is found in verse 13:  "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
     Standing fast.  In this verse, that probably means, be firm, don't give up, defend what you believe.  Can I make a parenting analogy?  As a parent, when I think of standing fast with my kids, I always have to stay a step ahead of them.  This means I have to think through each stage in their life, and prepare myself for the challenges they present.  I need to have ready answers and planned reactions.  When Paul says to stand fast, I'm sure he means all the definitions I already mentioned, but what if he also means to be quick?  Shouldn't we, as Christians, be a step ahead of Satan and his attacks?  Shouldn't we be watching for what the world will hurl at us, to knock us off balance? 
     How can I stand fast, when standing indicates not moving, but fast indicates movement?  It seems a little contradictory.  Going back to parenting, I have certain values and principles I want my children to learn.  They will test these and question these things in various phases of their lives.  I never relinquish them, I never abandon them, but I rush ahead and plant my feet again, so they understand that when they needed to obey Mommy and Daddy as a toddler, they still need to heed Mom and Dad as a teenager.  So how do I do that with God's Word?  I think the other phrases in the verse help me to see what I need to do.  First, I need to watch.  I know many people are not keen on current events.  Personally, I only watch the news because my husband is a news hound.  It forces me to pay better attention.  I think it is important that we watch worldly trends, not so we can participate, but so we can defend against them.  When we see something, we ought to gauge it by the Bible, and see what His Word has to say about particular activities.  A few years ago, I kept hearing teenagers talking about a particular celebrity who had burst onto the music scene.  I wondered why the sudden hoopla.  I decided to check it out and oh my!  Did I get an eye and earful!  This particular singer was so ungodly in her lyrics and videos, I was just stunned.  That is what is influencing our teenagers!  I was seriously appalled.  Now, I don't recommend turning on MTV on a regular basis.  But I think sometimes to stay a step ahead, we need to be aware of what is out there.  We need to watch and pay attention to the trends, because those are the snares Satan has set for our kids.
Courtesy of

     This verse also says to "quit you like men".  Quitting doesn't seem like it belongs in this verse, since he is talking about standing firm and being watchful.  The definition by Webster I particularly like is "To carry through; to do or perform something to the end, so that nothing remains; to discharge or perform completely."  When I think of doing this like men, I think of the military.  Soldiers follow through with an order given by their commander.  It is what they are trained to do.  Sometimes they have to quit a station to move ahead of the enemy and not allow them to advance further.  Sometimes they are engaged in combat.  As a woman, that does not appeal to me.  At all.  I am generally a peacemaker and do not like to engage in conflict.  There are those occasions when my husband hands me the phone when a political party calls for donations.  He chuckles when I won't back down from my conservative views and advise them that if they want my money they better get on the right track.  He lets me answer the door when religious organizations preaching heresy try to give us their literature.  When it comes to defending God's Word, I can be tenacious.  Now, I don't try to engage in debate, I never find that works.  But I am determined to let them know my resolve will not weaken on these issues.  If I am going to stand fast, I need to be studying God's Word, and praying that God will give me the words to say when I am engaged in battle.
     The last phrase in this verse says to "be strong".  Physically, I am not all that strong.  I know women with more muscle and are stronger.  Emotionally, I am often a weakling.  My heart is easily touched and I get all feminine and woman-like, crying at weddings, at sappy songs, at chick flicks, at people in need.  How strong am I spiritually?  I hope in that area, I have the strength to fight the good fight.  I could do a much better job memorizing Scripture.  I know a lot of parts of verses, but don't ask me where to find them.  I'm horrible at references.  Yet, if I want to stay a step ahead of my attacker, if I want to stand fast, I better be able to point out where I can support my position.  Satan will challenge me on this.  Just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness by presenting Scripture, he will try to twist and distort God's Words so that I am convinced they say what he wants me to believe.  Its also important to know the context of verses.  Anybody can take a verse out of a passage and make it say what they want it to say.  I try so very carefully here, not to do that.  Sometimes I will do that by way of application, but hopefully never by way of interpretation or doctrine.  How many cults have been founded on a verse taken out of a passage that did not mean anything that they were trying to make it say?  Satan is a master at this.  If I want to stand fast, and stay that step ahead of him, I need to know what all of my Bible says.  Reading the whole passage is a really good way to defend against this.
     As a parent, as a soldier, as a Christian, God wants me to stand fast.  He wants me to watch the signs of the times, He wants me to defend His Word, He wants to give me spiritual strength to fight the Wicked One.  He wants me to stay a step ahead of the devil so I can defend against him properly.  God says His Word is quick and powerful.  Using it can make me the same.

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