1 Corinthians 16:13-14
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”
This one word in the last chapter of 1st Corinthians stands out.
There is not a huge amount of immediate context to it (Paul is mentioning the names of a few people who say hi and sharing their news as he comes to the end of his letter).
If we need to watch then we should also be teaching our children to watch too.
So what are we looking out for? What should we be fixing our attention on? What are we called to watch? What do we need to be teaching our children to help them follow this verse?
1. The return of Christ
Firstly we must watch for sign of the return of Christ. This is a theme throughout the New Testament. Jesus tells parables of those who are watchful and ready. The virgins with oil, Matthew 25:1-13; the servant waiting for the king to return, Luke 12:36-48.)
Jesus also instructs us that no one know when Jesus will come back, but our response to this should be to watch and get ready. Matthew 24:42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
The context for this passage is a look at the signs of the end of times before Christ returns.
We must teach our children the signs that must be fulfilled before Christ returns. Matthew 24 speaks of some of these, Revelation is full of signs that will be fulfilled. While there is some disagreement on the precise meaning of some of these passages, we should not shy away from teaching our children to look for them, or else we will be raising a generation who are not prepared for Christ's return and are simply drifting from one stage of life to the next.
This watching leads to action: In Daniel 9, Daniel watched for the time when prophecy was due to be fulfilled and when he saw it was time it led him to prayer (intercessors are often called watchmen as they look for the signs in the spirit to be fulfilled).
2. The world around
This leads us to the second thing that we should be looking at – what is going on in the world around us. We have never been called to stick our heads in the sand, rather we are called to be in the world but not of the world. To act as salt and light in the world we live in. To be most effective we need to keep our eyes open not just to the needs we see in the world but to the trends in our society.
We read that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, ]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
When we see society changing in this way it should cause us to encourage ourselves (and all the more as we see the Day approaching, Hebrews 10:25).
When we know what to expect it can prepare us to be able to face these things. They may be difficult but they are not unexpected.
When we used to fly with our children on holiday (I say used to as the current pandemic makes air travel seem like a thing of the past) we would come prepared because we knew what to expect. My wife had puzzle books, snacks and spare clothes (just in case). We also tried to explain what would happen on the flight. Turbulence is simply like bumps in a road, not a fault in the plane. When you take off it will get very noisy for a bit and your tummy may feel funny. Knowing what to expect in this novel experience helped them to prepare for it mentally and enjoy the flight (and ask, 'How many films can we watch Dad?')
So we must help our children to interpret the events around them through the prism of Scripture.
Some of the events can be quite surprising. It is no surprise that God instructs us in 1 Corinthians 16 to not only watch, but to stand fast in the faith.
3. The work of the Holy Spirit
When events around our children seem to be out of their control (both the global catastrophes and personal tragedies) we should encourage them to see that God is at work in all of it. As believers, our joy and responsibility is to see what God is doing and join in with it. Our lives are not our own - they are in service to the King.
As different events take place around us, we should encourage our children to ask God what He is doing and how they can join in with it. God has a purpose for us in every situation and knows all that we are facing.
Sometimes this will involve us standing against the cultural trends of the day. I have stood in awe of the many children I have met in my ministry who have been willing to stand against the trends in the school and stand up for righteousness and those who are being downtrodden.
A key part of helping prepare our children for their future is to help them encounter the Holy Spirit. In these days our children need to be more intimate with the Holy Spirit than ever before, to be led by him in all things.
With all that we are facing in these days, it is no wonder God is calling us in 1 Corinthians 16 to not only watch, but to be brave and strong.
4. Looking inside us
Fourthly, we should keep an eye on what is going on inside of us.
Matthew 24:44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
We must be ready. 1 Corinthians 16 not only tells us to watch, but instructs us to let all that we do be done in love.
We should encourage our children to see what is going on inside them. Are they growing in love or in fear? Are they growing in love or in judgement? This is part of taking captive every thought 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Recognising what is going on inside of us and knowing God more seem like basic pre requisites of discipleship.
Are they ready for Christ’s return?
Watching and living
Notice in 1 Corinthians 16, Paul does not just tell us to watch. We are to be active. To live life and serve Christ in boldness of faith and overflowing love. It is this mindset we should encourage in our children as we teach them to be watchful in the days that they live.
It is time for us to raise up a generation for these days that we live in. To find out more about how God can use this generation, take a look at our book: The Josiah Generation.