Act Like Men


Charlie Pankey

“Paul writes to the leaders in the church at Corinth, ‘Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love’ (1 Corinthians 16:13–14).”

So What does Paul Mean by “Act Like Men?” Or in the NIV “Be Courageous” 

Growing up in my family, being a man generally was described by words like: Strength, Pride, Power, Non Emotional, If emotional then Choose Anger.  As a young man I was taught to never start the fight, but if a fight happens make sure I finish it! To never allow myself to be bullied, and to actively seek the attention of women.  Being a Man in my family typically involved lustfull wandering eyes, verbal abuse of relatives and an abundance of chest banging laughter over the foolishness of others pride.

Now I don’t bring these to light to bring shame on my family. Rather I have come to believe that my family was not unlike many families where men had learned and developed a self preservation mentality from generations of men that fought wars, battled governments, lived through depressions and watched the greatest growth of a nation one could imagine. This was not a Man that had reliance on God or anyone else.

I sit here today not looking back at my past but instead studying God’s word to move forward in his peace, understanding and grace. So back to the question for all of us in the church.  If we are to move forward from our pasts and strive to do as Paul wrote to “Act Like Men” then what does that mean? What changes do I need to make  or choices do I need to make, today and tomorrow so that I can live in abundance with his spirit?

I find it interesting that in 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul writes about “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned like a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”  Could this entire chapter just be about maturity?  Is being like a Man or Being Courageous more about our maturity in Christ than our physical stature as a gender? When God grants us his grace and forgiveness, he proclaims our past is finished that we begin a new life. We are like a child that has grown up? “ when I grew up a put away childish things”

I have come to believe there really is only one goal as a man after receiving Christ as my savior. That is to live each day trying to maximize the gifts of the spirit that God has granted me. 

Understanding that there are two ways to look at God’s Spirit. 

  • First he has endowed each of us with his spirit. A gift that is unique to us and his plan for us. That gift, when activated, can deliver wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, the ability to counsel or care  for others and a reverence or fear of God that is authentic. Notice that I said when activated. I have found in my life that since the Holy Spirit lives within me, but God gives me free will, he will only allow his powers to flow through me when we ask him to take part in our daily lives.
  • Second Paul shows us in  Galatians what our lives should reflect and display a certain set of characteristics. The “Fruits of the Spirit” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.


So if Paul is indeed speaking about maturity in Corinthians? Could we conclude that our actions as a man could simply be graded upon our willingness to activate and engage the Holy spirit in all that we do so that we can produce the fruit of God’s spirit to his Church? 

Writers of that time had said of this verse, “They were to stand firm, being bold in confessing what they had been taught. They were to be strong in both word and deed, because it is the right combination of these which enables people to mature” (Commentary on Paul’s Epistles).*

So through the apostle Paul in his word to the entire church at Corinth, God is not calling his people to act according to social norms of what is “masculine.” Rather, he wants all of his children to demonstrate the bravery and courage lacking in the immature in the faith.

Our goal is to follow hard after him, to grow in maturity, and thus to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. 

References for this study: 

1- “Act Like Men”: What Does Paul Mean? –

2- The Bible App

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