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Quit you like men - be strong

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Unworthy Servant
Staff Member
1 Corinthians 16:13-24
Quit You Like Men

1Corinthians 13-24

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the flrstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such. The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. (vv. 13-24)

There is something delightfully personal in most of the closing messages of the apostle Paul to the various churches. He was a very human man as well as a very spiritual one. The late Dr. C. I. Scofield used to say that when we are first converted we have to be changed from natural to spiritual, but after being saved awhile we need another conversion to become natural again-in a different sense, of course. So many of us allow ourselves to become rather stilted and unnatural in our desire to be spiritual, and we lose that sweet, gracious warmth that should characterize us as Christian men and women.

Paul was a man with a tender heart. He made very real friendships and never went back on a friend. He may have grieved over some of them who forsook him, but he continued to pray for them even when they turned away from him. And those with whom he could continue to have happy fellowship were a real joy to him. I want you to notice the various personal references in this portion. For the moment we will pass over verses 13-14.

In chapter 1, when some of them were making too much of leaders and saying, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” and others again were making Christ the head of a party and saying, “I am of Christ,” he had said, “I am so glad that I did not baptize any of you lest you should say I had baptized in my own name.” He was not setting baptism at naught in the slightest degree. Sometimes we find people who make these words the basis of their notion that Paul was making light of Christian baptism. But these Corinthians were making so much of human leaders that he would not have people going about boasting that they were baptized by Paul and therefore considering that they had a different standing from others. He was very glad, under the circumstances, that as far as he could remember, he had baptized only Crispus and Gaius and the household of Stephanas.

And now he tells us something about that household of Stephanas. They were not little infants, but he says, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints).” The very first home to be opened up to the gospel, when he went to Corinth, was that of Stephanas. He and his family were brought to Christ and evidently were in a position to help others, for from that time on they “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” The word translated “addicted” is exactly the same word that is elsewhere translated “ordained.” So one could say that the household of Stephanas had “ordained themselves to the ministry of the saints.” What a blessed ordination! Instead of constantly looking for other people to do things for them, they said, “We are going in to do for others; we will try to be a blessing to others; we will set ourselves apart to help God’s beloved people.” And so the apostle says, “Submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.” You see, like Epaphroditus, they made themselves of no reputation that they might bless other people.

Stephanas himself had evidently launched out into evangelistic work, and he with others had come to meet Paul. Paul wrote this letter from Philippi and he says, “I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.” I take it that he means, “I knew you wanted to send me something to help me with my expenses but have not done so, but now these brethren have come and brought an offering and I appreciate it very much.” When he was in Corinth the first time, he would not take anything from them because they were all heathen, and when they were newly come out of heathenism he did not want any one to say, “Paul is just here for what he can make out of us.” He says, “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (2Co 11:8). Others gave the money that enabled him to meet part of his expenses, and what he lacked he earned by tent-making.

He did not have such a great regard for the “cloth,” you know, that he could not soil his hands. He went into business with Priscilla and Aquila. But now that he has left Corinth, he is glad to receive from the Corinthian church a missionary offering to help him in his work. We at home are glad to send our money to those laboring in heathen lands to help make the gospel known. In return, we read, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” Aquila and Priscilla used to live in Corinth, and Paul stayed with them when he was there, but now they are away and naturally send their greetings back to the home church.

“Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.” There is such a thing as a Judas kiss, or, it might be, an insincere handshake. It means the same thing. Someone says to another, “Well, I am so glad to see you,” and then she has hardly turned her back before she says, “Hateful old cat; I wish she would stay away!” Or, another says, “Good morning, brother, so pleased to meet you,” and then he turns around and says, “I haven’t any use for him.” That is an unholy greeting. In the ancient times women kissed women and men kissed men. Women still kiss one another when they meet, but be sure it is a holy kiss. Do not profess to love her when deep in your heart there is resentment and unkindness. As brethren greet each other let it be in sincerity. Let the heart that is behind it be right. Said Jehu, “Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?” And when Jehonadab said, “It is,” we read that Jehu “took him up to him into the chariot” (2Ki 10:15). We need to get rid of hypocrisy; we have a lot of pretension to fellowship that is not real. “I would have you,” says the apostle, “to be sincere,” that is, to be genuine in all things.

I will drop the rest of the chapter for the moment and go back to verses 13-14. Here is Paul’s closing exhortation, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity,” or, “with love.” How we need to heed this. “Watch ye.” As long as we are in this world we are in the place of danger, we are surrounded by pitfalls and snares on every hand. “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (Mar 14:38), said our Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not trust ourselves and we cannot trust the world through which we journey.

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Since I must fight if I would reign,
Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll hear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

It is one of the first principles of soldiery to keep a sharp lookout for the enemy, and so we must be on the watch for the enemy of our souls.

“Stand fast in the faith.” There are too many people who blow hot and blow cold; they are one thing in one company and quite different in another. But the servant of Christ, the child of God, should be one who realizes that there has been committed to him the greatest of all possible responsibilities and therefore he is to “stand fast in the faith.” As the apostle elsewhere writes to Timothy, “That good [deposit] which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (2Ti 1:14). It is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that we can keep the faith.

And then we have the words, “Quit you like men.” He reproved these Corinthians in the early part of the letter because some of them were acting like babies; some were divided into little sectarian groups, and he said, “When you talk like this, it is childishness.” “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it.” Whenever you see Christians fussing, quarreling about their own rights, complaining because they are not properly recognized, because people do not greet them as they think they should, because they do not get enough applause for what they do, put it down as the “baby” spirit coming out. They have not yet reached spiritual maturity. The man in Christ is indifferent to praise or to blame. If I belong to Christ, I am here to serve Him. If I have His approbation, that is the thing that counts. “Quit you like men.” May God deliver us from our babyishness. In some churches half the time of the minister is spent trying to keep weak Christians quiet over little slights. If you are living for God, people cannot slight you because you will not let them. It will not make any difference to you. “Quit you like men, be strong.”

Someone says, “That is just my trouble. I know I ought to be strong, but I am so weak.” Of course you cannot be strong in your own strength. We read: “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph 6:10). And the more you realize your own weakness, and the more you throw yourself upon Him, the more you will be able to stand in the evil day, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

And then again, you are not to be strong in your own human spirit, but to be strong by the Spirit of the Lord. Turn to Eph 3:16-17. The apostle prays, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and He has come to dwell in you if you are a believer. If He is controlling the life, dominating your will, it is not a question of your ability to stand, it is a question of His. You are simply yielded to Him, and as you are yielded to Him you are enabled to be strong and to stand for His glory.

But then, you need spiritual nourishment, and so you become strong through the Word. Writing to young men, the apostle John says, “I have written unto you, young men, because you are strong” (1Jn 2:14). How did they get that strength? “And the Word of God abideth in you.” You show me a weak, wobbling believer, and I will show you a Christian not giving very much time to meditation upon the Word of God. Show me one who is a strong, devoted, earnest Christian, seeking only the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I will show you one who is living on the Book. As you eat the Word, as you feed upon the truth, you get strength that you cannot obtain in any other way. People go around lamenting their weakness and their leanness. I get so tired of people coming and saying, “Do pray for me that I may be a stronger Christian.” What is the use of praying for you? You might say, “Do pray that I may get stronger physically.” “What kind of food do you eat?” I ask. “Not any.” And I would say, “Then there is no use praying for you.” What you need as a Christian is a good meal of spiritual nourishment, and you can get it only in the Book. You may do all the praying you like to be a strong Christian, and your prayer will never be answered until you begin to answer it yourself by feeding upon the Word of God.

But do not stop there, for we also become strong through obedience. Turn back to the Old Testament to a very blessed Scripture, Jos 1:7: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” “To do”-notice that. That is where we lack. We know, but we do not do. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (v. 8). They had only the five books of Moses when God gave that command. You have a whole Bible with sixty-six books. Apply this to the entire Bible. “Let it not depart out of your mouth. Meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.” I suppose you want to make a success of your life, young man or young woman. Here then is the divinely-appointed way to do it.

And so, if you want strength, this is how you get it. Live in fellowship with Christ, walk in the Spirit, feed upon His Word, obey His Word, and then when the hour of trial comes, you will not be weak-kneed, you will not be vacillating, you will not be carried about like a leaf before the wind. You will have strength to stand, and you will be able to glorify God even in the fire. It is the testing that is the proof.

It is easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows on like a song,
But the man worthwhile is the man with a smile
When everything goes dead wrong.

The Christian who is really worthwhile is the man who can be bereft of everything-he can lose his good clothes, his money, his home, his health-and after everything is gone he can say, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). That is the kind of Christian God would have me be, strong in the hour of trial and strong, too, in the hour of temptation. I am afraid a good many of us keep from falling into various sins because they never come very close to us, and then we look with contempt upon people who go down when stress comes. If you had been exposed to the same temptation that that poor failing brother or sister was exposed to, you might have gone down just as he or she did. You would have, if not kept by the mighty power of God. It is only by living in fellowship with God that you will be kept from yielding. The brother said, “It is an odd thing about me, I can resist everything but temptation.” A good many of us are like that. Go through the Book of God and you will find that the men who could resist in the hour of temptation were the men who knew God before the test came. David was not in fellowship with God when that awful temptation came or he never would have gone down. Joseph was tempted under far more adverse circumstances and he stood fast, exclaiming, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9). Our blessed Lord could say, “I have set [Jehovah] always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psa 16:8). The man who resists temptation is the man strong in the Lord before temptation comes. But there is always danger that the strong will be contemptuous of the weak. So he adds, “Let all your things be done with charity.” Be very exact with yourself, but very generous in your judgment of other people; be very, very strict with yourself, but very gracious in dealing with those who are weak. Remember what they have to contend with. Perhaps they do not know the Lord as well as you do, so seek by grace to manifest the love of Christ to them.

We now come to the end of the chapter. In verse 22 we have a very solemn word before the apostle closes this letter. I wonder whether there are those listening to me who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ. May I just ask you to pause and face this question, Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? What is your heart’s answer? Can you say, “I do”? Or to be perfectly honest, do you have to say, “No, I do not love Him.” May the Spirit of God give you to realize the solemnity of the warning, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” What strange expressions! I think the Holy Spirit of God providentially allowed our translators to leave those two peculiar words untranslated. One of them is a Greek word, Anathema, and it means “accursed, devoted to judgment.” The other word, Maranatha, is a Syriac word and means “the Lord cometh.” If you translated the entire passage, it would read like this, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be devoted to judgment at the coming of the Lord.” What a solemn word that is! O unsaved one, may God give you to realize the dangerous position in which you stand. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he will be devoted to judgment at the coming of the Lord.”

The Lord has not yet returned, and though you do not love Him, you may love Him. You cannot stir up any love in your own heart, but you may trust Him, the One who loves you, the One who gave Himself for you, the One who died on the cross for your sins. Open your heart to Him, receive Him, bow at His feet in repentance, hide nothing, confess your sins, your sins of hypocrisy, of dishonesty, of immorality, of selfishness, of covetousness, whatever wickedness it my be. Tell Him all about it. Do not say, “O Lord, I am not much of a sinner; I never did many things that are wrong; I pray Thee forgive me,” but get into the company of David who when his conscience was awakened said, “O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great” (Psa 25:11). You would almost have expected him to say, “It isn’t very great, so pardon it.” No, he says, “It is great.” It is such great iniquity that only a great God can pardon and a great Savior can deliver. “If with all your heart ye truly seek Him, He will be found of you.” If you will turn to Him honestly facing your sin, acknowledging your guilt, trusting Him as your Savior, and then confess Him before men, He will put love in your heart and you will be able to say, “I love Him, my Savior, my Redeemer,” and you will not be devoted to judgment, you will be saved from judgment, and so will be able to enter into the blessedness of this closing benediction:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” And then the apostle adds so humanly, “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” Thank you, Paul; we are glad to get this message from you, and when we get home to heaven, we will look you up and will talk it over together. Until then we will seek to carry out the truth we have found in this epistle.

H A Ironside
 

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