1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
These two verses together like this violate all sorts of societal expectations. In the first place, “be manly” (the NIV softened that) violates the current teaching about “toxic masculinity.” God created men and women to be different for many good reasons. It is all the rage to deride “gender stereotypes,” but the fact remains that in general, boys and girls will choose to play in different ways with different things. Each can benefit from learning from the opposite gender, but that doesn’t erase their biological gender, whatever people claim. Actually verse 14 is a perfect example of that, because “doing everything in love” certainly doesn’t fit the stereotype of a man. We don’t become less male, or conversely, less female, by learning from the opposite gender. We are to exercise our strengths, but not use our weaknesses as excuses, asking and allowing God to keep growing us in every way.
Even after 50 years of marriage (tomorrow is the 51st anniversary of our 1st date) my wife and I are still learning from and about each other. We are of equal value, but certainly not identical. Each of us has strengths that dovetail into weaknesses in the other, so we are far stronger together than we are separately. I don’t fit some of the male stereotypes, particularly in relation to sports and alcohol, but I am still undeniably male in my thinking, and that sometimes makes for conflict. Conversely, my wife has never been one for makeup (for which I am thankful) but she still responds to situations as a woman. Over the years we have learned that “doing everything in love” doesn’t necessarily look the same to each of us. We have had to learn to recognize expressions of love, both in word and action, and be grateful for them. All of that said, each of us needs to be on our guard and stand firm in the faith. Those two things are universal indeed!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the way You indeed continue to grow and shape us. May we not resist You in any way but rejoice to flow with Your spirit, not only toward each other but also toward everyone around us, so that as Your agents we may do Your will for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!