Earlier this month I had the privilege of preaching at Brookneal Baptist Church for their "Men's Day" celebration. The notes below are from the sermon I preached that morning. If you'd like to hear an audio version, feel free to click here for the sermon: https://soundcloud.com/adamca/leo-percer-sermon-3-5-17-brookneal-baptist-church
Intro: When I realized that I’d be
speaking at Brookneal Baptist on a special men’s day celebration, I decided to
focus my thoughts on men in general to fit the theme. Of course, what I have to
say today will be applicable to all Christians, so I expect the ladies to pay
attention as well, okay? There is a severe lack in our society today of what
may be called “mature” people—Just look at the news: Yet another politician
behaving badly, Celebrities acting like children, Even the church is not immune
to immaturity. There seems to be a real shortage of mature people.
the “how to be a man speech” in he movie “Second Hand Lions”? Our passage today
is Paul’s version of the “how to be a man” or “how to be mature” speech. It is
strong advice for tough times. Before we go any further, let me remind you that
all of Paul’s statements here are commands, they are not options.
Corinth: Before we actually look at our
verses for today, let me give you some insight into the church in Corinth. These people were a mess. They had
divided on a variety of issues. They had split into factions determined by slogans
and political posturing. They had forgotten what they were taught and become
lazy in their spiritual growth/wisdom. They had ceased to serve one another and
passed judgment on each other to the point of lawsuits. They had immoral
activity in their church. They abused their
spiritual liberty and hurt one another with it. They had no spiritual
discipline and had become disorderly in their use of God’s gifts. They lost
love for one another. They had forgotten the power of God’s love and Christ’s
resurrection. They needed some mature people to lead them. They needed strong
advice from Paul to face their tough situation.
passage comes at the end of a letter Paul wrote with the intention of
addressing these problems in the Corinthian church. He responded to
some of their questions as well as addressed the issues at the church. In
chapter 13, Paul admonished them to learn to love while serving each other. In
chapter 14, he encouraged them to use God’s gifts in an orderly and
praiseworthy fashion. In chapter 15, he educates them on Jesus’ resurrection
and its impact for believers. In chapter 16, Paul closes his letter with some
practical advice. This church was in tough situation, and Paul gave them some
Corinthians 16:13-14. We see in these verses five commands from Paul. In brief,
Paul tells the Corinthians to 1) be alert, 2) stand firm, 3) be mature (act
like men), 4) be strong, 5) do everything in love. The middle command here is
where I want to start my sermon, so bear with me as I rearrange the narrative
just a bit. I think that the advice to act like men is a reference to being
mature, and I further think that the other commands are built around this one. So,
Paul’s strong advice for tough times is centered on the idea of maturity.
1) Act like Men/Be Mature—The Greek term here means something like to behave like an adult as
opposed to acting like a juvenile. In other words, Paul commands the church to exhibit positive masculine/mature
properties. Be mature and be brave.
characteristics to note here:
maturity—1 John 2:12-14—John encourages his readers to progress on to a
mature position, to leave behind childish things (1 Cor. 13:11-12)—cf.
Ephesians 4:13. This maturity comes from the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2; 2
Timothy 3:16-17; 1 John 2:12-14—young men are strong in the Word of God)—this
Word of God refers of course to both the written Word (the Bible) and the
Incarnate Word (Jesus)—to be spiritually mature requires us to be adept in both
(1 Cor. 14:20—the Corinthians need to grow up). What about us? Where do we need to grow up? Where do we need to stop acting
juvenile? What relationships and
situations need maturity instead of juvenile selfishness?
b. Courage—“Give me 100 men who fear nothing
but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world: I care not a
straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the
kingdom of Satan and build up the Kingdom of God on earth.” John Wesley “Courage
is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.” John Wayne
c. Consistency—a constant process of growth that
builds Christ-like characteristics in our lives.
of this passage reveals for us what it means to “act like men” or to “be
mature” according to Paul. To be mature requires us to be on the alert.
2) Be Alert/Be Watchful—a military term with a strategy in
mind that means to be vigilant. It is the opposite of indifference or apathy. It
is an active concern to be aware. What happens when those on guard duty fail
their watch? The enemy sneaks in. Others may suffer loss. Someone may die. In
the spiritual life of a Christian, watchfulness must be combined with prayer
(Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2).
the objects of our watching? Some examples include--The enemy (1 Peter 5:8); Temptation (Mark 14:38); False
Teaching (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1); Opportunities to share God’s good news or
to do God’s works (Titus 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:5); The return of Christ (Matthew
We need mature people to lead be alert leaders, to train others to
be watchful. To act like men/to be mature means to watch out for each other. Watching
out for each other requires a solid foundation in Christ. We must stand firm
3) Stand firm in the faith—Another “militant” term—Paul is
calling on the Corinthians to make a stand, to be recognized, to hold their
ground (cf. Ephesians 6:10-11). Read 1 Corinthians 15:58. There is a connection
between being watchful and standing firm. An army on the watch is an army ready
to stand. An army caught off guard is an army soon defeated.
How do we
“stand firm”? Be a disciple/be a learner—spend time learning the great truths of God
from the Bible—search the Scripture to find God’s plan. Know what you believe
(2 Thessalonians 2:15). Know why you believe it and be ready to offer a reason
(1 Peter 3:15). Once you know what and why, act on it—do the truth. Standing
firm is like a tree planted with deep roots—it is solid because it has a strong
foundation—our foundation is what God accomplished through Jesus and shown to
us through the revelation of the truth of the Bible. Our faith (belief and
action) should be an anchor for us (2 Timothy 2:15). To act like men/to be
mature means to make a stand in what God has done.
in God’s work requires and results in strength.
4) Be Strong—The Greek here refers to a strength in action rather than simply strength
in possession. It isn’t how much you bench press, it is how you act when
strength needed. The biggest muscles will freeze up if there is no strong
Ephesians 6:10—”be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His
might”. Three kinds of strength here—empowerment (be endued with the Lord’s
power), strength (a similar word as used in 1 Corinthians), and power (might or
muscle). We must gain power from God, act on what he gives us, and use it to
accomplish his purposes. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6—we pull down fortresses. What
does this strength look like in action?
Philippians 2:3-4. God’s power properly applied usually acts on behalf
of others. Which brings us to our final point—We have all these “militant”
terms, then Paul calls us to love.
militant ideas fit with a concept of love? To act like men/to be mature we must
be strong—but strength must be always be tempered with love.
5) Do all in love—What’s love got to do with it? Only
everything. God at his most powerful is also God at his most vulnerable. Look at John
1:1-3, 14—God who created all things revealed his glory, grace, and truth by
becoming one of us and revealing God among us (i.e., “Immanuel”). Philippians
2:5-8. Jesus was equal with God, but he didn’t take advantage. He emptied himself, and he became a
servant. Incarnated as a human, he humbly obeyed even to the point of dying for
our sins on a cross. How did Jesus love?
He gave himself so others could live. That’s the love Paul refers to
here. To act like men/to be mature requires us to do all things in love.
Corinthians certainly needed this kind of love (Paul even discussed it in
chapter 13 of this book). Their divisions had caused factions and fighting. They
had become rivals instead of brothers. They were engaging in lawsuits instead
of love. They were acting like children. They were not watching out for each
other. They were not standing firm in the truth Paul had taught them. They were
giving in to weakness. Where do we need love?
Where do we need to show love?
like men, we must learn to do all things in love.
little three letter word “all” is difficult isn’t it?
things—even my marriage? My kids? My job?
My business relationships? Even
with those who don’t “love” me? Even in situations where showing love could
result in a loss for me?
men/being mature is not easy. No one said growing up would be simple. Paul’s
advice here is strong, but the situation is a tough one and needs a strong
love do? In our world today, love is not only an important element, it is THE
MOST IMPORTANT element. Without love, watchfulness can deteriorate into a
judgmental spirit. Without love, Paul’s commands could lead us to be militant
but hardhearted. Love keeps our firmness from becoming hardness and our
strength from becoming authoritarian domination. It keeps our maturity gentle
and considerate. It keeps our right doctrine from becoming obstinate dogmatism
and our right living from becoming smug self-righteousness. It makes us like
not easy. In fact, love cost Jesus his
life. We need to remember, however, that
sometimes the toughest task produces the sweetest results. Look at how God’s love redeemed you!
Phillips Brooks said, “Never pray for an easier life—pray to be stronger men.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers—pray for powers equal to your
tasks. Then doing your work will be no
miracle—you will be the miracle!”
Conclusion—So what do we do? How do we respond to this passage? Our
circumstances are not so different from the church in Corinth. We live in a
divided society, live in divided families, even attend divided churches. We
have people around us acting like juveniles—blaming others for their problems
or only looking out for themselves—we have a lack of “grown ups”—we need some
mature men. We have problems creeping in, temptations attacking us, people
falling, we need someone to be on the watch. Our society and our churches seem
at times to be slipping into all kinds of problems or errors or sin. Nothing
seems to be solid or firm. We need folks who are on a solid foundation. We need
strength tempered by love. We need mature men and women who will watch out for
the church and for others. Take a stand for God’s truth and be bold. Be strong
in God’s power to accomplish God sized tasks. Love God and love others as
Application—Our response to this passage is
simple. We must act like men, we must be mature and brave. We must go to our
homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, our jobs, and embody the principles
Paul has described here. We must be willing to be a solid foundation, a
trustworthy people, a group of men and women who love each other as Christ
loves each of us. This will require us to be creative, to reach out to those
others have deemed “unreachable” or “untouchable”. We will need to imitate the
life of Jesus in our everyday lives. We must be humble servants looking to
bless others with God’s grace. Will we risk it? If we don’t, who will? What
will our families, our churches, and our world look like if we do? I’d like to
So here is
some strong advice for these tough times—Be the mature one, act like Christ—be
watchful, be strong, stand firm, and do all things in love.
Thanks for reading!
Labels: 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, act like men, be mature, strong advice, tough times