Paul continues to encourage the Corinthians with instruction and example. I actually almost missed the subtlety in which he was speaking.
13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. 15 Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints), 16 that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors. 17 I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. 18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
At first, I was just going to use verses 13 and 14 today, until I realized that Paul follows it up with examples of what he is talking about and the reason why he says what he says. In two short sentences, Paul tells us what it means to be a real Godly man.
Two men who impacted my life greatly, my grandfather and another man who was a retired pastor, taught me the value of love. They didn’t just tell me about it, they exemplified it. They lived out God’s love in their lives. They epitomized these first two verses. They were always on the alert for those who opposed the Word of God. They stood firm in their faith, not being swayed by naysayers or challenges. They acted like men of the bible. They were strong. But most of all, they made sure that all they did was done in love. They acted with a pure heart. The pastor told me as I was explaining our call to missions in Guatemala, “whatever you do, just make sure you love them.”
As we read on, Paul mentions the household of Stephanas as well as two other men, Fortunatus and Achaicus. To us they are just names, but Paul is saying here that he wishes that the Corinthians would be in subjection to such men. In other words, he is saying, “take care to emulate these men, for although they are only 3, they do more for the Kingdom of God than you do.” This might seem like a slap in the face, but in reality it is an exhortation to practice more what they preach. I am currently reading a book called The Resolution for Men, which teaches about how to be a man like this. It talks about the man as the spiritual leader of the household and you can see here that Stephanas wasn’t just a great man on his own, his whole household was considered worthy of the calling of Christ. His spiritual leadership affected his whole family. As men, whatever we do affects the rest of our family.
Real men are servants. Paul mentioned how these men have refreshed his spirit even though as we read these letters it seems like Paul is usually the leader. Leaders help others accomplish their goal. They encourage and refresh others so they are motivated to do what needs to be done and efficient in doing it. A leader doesn’t bark out orders, he loves others so they can realize their full potential. They affect everyone around them whether or not they are trying to. Every man I have looked up to has been a “normal person” who simply loved others and served them appropriately to help them become who God designed them to be.
Are you trying to emulate a leader like this? Do you think you are a leader? How can you serve others today?
This post is dedicated to Arthur Brobst and Jim Thorne, two very different yet influential men of God.