1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.…
1. Weakness is always miserable; sometimes sinful. If a man, e.g., abstain from food, having food before him; if he neglect necessary exercise and become, through inaction, enervated; if he pamper the body; if he curtail rest; under such circumstances, to be weak is to be sinful. It is to such weakness that the apostle refers here.
2. Our prayer for you is that you may be strong; and our hope of your strength is not entirely in our prayer, nor in yours. Something more is necessary. In answer to such prayer, God would say to you, "You must lay aside that weight, and that sin, which doth so easily beset you." "If you would be strong, you must nourish your spirit with that food which I give you." Suppose that, instead of laying aside that weight, you retain it, and refuse the food offered you. God has answered your prayer in the directions He has given you, and in bringing before you the provision for your strength. The apostle had his eye upon these provisions and directions when he said, "Quit you like men, be strong."
I. THE THINGS THAT ARE NECESSARY TO SPIRITUAL STRENGTH.
1. Right and sound principle. "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but the spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind." Fear is a source of weakness, and love is a source of strength. If your religion is based upon dreading God, you will never be strong, if it is built up upon loving God you will be strong.
2. Mental and emotional nutriment. To have a strong mind, you must get God's thoughts into it. To have a strong heart, God must be the supreme object of affection.
3. Work. The doing that which God bids us to do, for inactivity invariably brings weakness. The more you do, the more you will be able to do. You find this in prayer, and in the ministrations of benevolence.
4. Self-control and government. "I keep under my body."
5. Seasonable rest. You must have repose; and if you do not get it, your power of doing sinks and dies out. You see this everywhere, and nowhere more than in the Christian Church.
6. Genial influences upon us. That which we may call light and sunshine — the "love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto us." Flowers will not bloom in darkness; and you cannot get a strong character, except in the love of your God. "Thy gentleness hath made me great." There are those who expose their children to all sorts of rigors to make them hardy, and perhaps sink them to the grave. The genial influence of real love makes the strongest character.
7. A good atmosphere.
8. Help wisely administered. If, in teaching a child, you do everything for him, he will do nothing. In helping the poor, if you do everything, you impoverish them. God never does this; but He so helps us as to bring out our own resources.
9. Abstinence from all enervating influences. From the principle of fear, e.g., and from carefulness run to seed, "Casting all your care upon Him." "Fear not, say to them of timid heart, be strong." 10. A will to be strong.
II. ALL WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO STRENGTH WE HAVE IN POSSESSION, OR WITHIN REACH.
1. Right principle is given by God in revelation, and by His Spirit.
2. Bread of life has come down to us from heaven; the well of the water of life has been opened to us.
3. There is work God requires us to do.
4. We have directions for self-control, and we have examples.
5. Rest is divinely promised.
6. There is pure air in the house of prayer, in the Church of Christ, and always on the mount of religious meditation.
7. Help may be always obtained of God. We can lay aside every weight, or it would not be commanded. All that is necessary to make you strong is provided. Do you suppose the Saviour has left His work half done? or that He is doing it now partially? Conclusion: Be strong in your whole spirit, but especially in faith, in hope, and in love.
Parallel VersesKJV: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.