Gear up, but don’t forget to bring the Love

As I graduated high school and was heading off to college, my uncle gave me a gift, a small plaque with a Bible verse on it, I Corinthians 16:13. The verse quickly became one of my favorites.

“Be on the Alert. Stand firm in the Faith. Act like Men. Be Strong.”

Short, sweet, simple and to the point.

The verse has become a favorite among men’s groups and the military. It brings about images of being in battle.

Be on the alert — Be watchful, keep an eye out.

Stand Firm in the Faith — Pastor Mike Barnes loved this phrase, using it as a signature at the end of his emails. He said it made him think of ancient soldiers, like the story of the 300 — Shields up, cleats dug in, together as one holding off the enemy.

Act Like Men — A couple years ago, I went to a men’s conference in Long Beach, that used this phrase as its slogan. It is an interesting phrase that leaves a lot to be interpreted. What does it mean to “Act like a man.”Sitting on the couch eating pizza and watching football, is that acting like a man?

I was looking up the verse in a new Bible one day and found a different translation, rather than “Act Like Men” it said “Be Courageous.” I love that the phrase for Act Like a Man is synonymous with Be Courageous. It means that we as men are called to Be Courageous.

And speaking of courage, there are a lot of people that have the wrong idea about being courageous. They believe that having courage and acting courageous is to have no fear. When in fact being courageous is more about overcoming your fear, rather than not having any. As humans we all have our fears, what makes it courageous is being able to set aside that fear and do what needs to be done. And that is what it means to “Act Like Men.”

Be Strong — Pretty straight forward

A pretty strong message as a whole. Kind of like a halftime speech from a legendary football coach, it can fire you up and have you ready for battle.

But like most Bible stories and verses you can always use some context and look at what is around that story or verse.

And in this case, all you have to do is look at the next verse.

I Corinthians 16:14 — “Do Everything in Love”

As we go through our daily lives as Christians we come across those that would persecute us. The enemy is all around and we feel the need to strike back. Verse 13 is a rally cry.

Be on the alert … stand firm in the Faith … be courageous … be strong

We need to be ready to defend our Faith, be have to remember who we are and why we are under attack. While the World will become volatile, we are called to “Do everything in Love.”

It should be our defining characteristic.

As the world closes in, it is only human nature to want to fight back using the same tools, like Hate, shame and fear. But we need to dare to be different. They should know us by our love.

Don’t get so caught up in what we are doing, that we forget why we are doing it.

As Easter weekend is upon us, we are reminded of the price that was paid to save us.

We also need to remember the message he left us. Love our neighbors, and by neighbors I believe he meant everybody. Even the ones that are not going to show Love back, I would think especially them.

Jesus spoke of how the Faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains, and Paul reminded us that Faith that can move mountains is worthless without love.

So when the World closes in around you, gear up for the battle,  bot don’t forget to bring the Love