Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord – 1 Cor 15.58
Here Paul tells the Corinthians not to be weak, but to be steadfast. I love that word “steadfast”. I see so many Christians who are not steadfast, and Paul does not get involved in counselling or mollycoddling the Corinthians, he just tells them straight “BE STEADFAST”.
The word steadfast is a nautical word, it means to stay on the right course. Ships need to stay on course. The sea is kind of big, and there is not that much food and drink on the ship, and if you get off course, you could be in the middle of nowhere for years – you could die of starvation stuck and lost. Nowadays, we have radios and satellite phones on the ships, but in Bible days, you couldn’t get help from anyone. If you had 10 sheep on board for lamb chops, once they were gone they were gone! It is the same in life today, if we get off course, we can end up starving, lost, and lonely. We must be steadfast, but to be steadfast we must be strong. We must keep doing the things that keep us on course!
If you were joining a ship you would want to ensure that the captain was taking being steadfast seriously. If you were joining a church, you would want to ensure that the pastor was taking being steadfast seriously.
It is not just ships who need to be steadfast – you do too. It really does astound me what sets a Christian off course. They storm out of churches because of some petty thing that upsets them. More than once I have seen Christians leave a church because they disagreed with one point the preacher made. One point! And it was a church that helped them. I am very wary when people come to us from another church and you find out they left for the most petty of reasons. They are not steadfast people, and unless they get strong soon, they will be off course again very quickly! They need to get strong! People get offended over silly things and disconnect from their course. It is a tragedy, but we must obey Paul and BE STEADFAST.
Some people do not stay the course when they are corrected. A scorner hates being corrected and will hate you if you correct them (Proverbs 9.8). There are people who if you correct them you will make them hate you, and if you do not correct them they will leave the path of righteousness. What can you do? Steadfast people realize they have to make course corrections, and realize they are not always the wisest person in the room and listen to and even embrace and welcome correction. You need to be open to correction or you will never be strong and steadfast. A good pastor is someone who corrects you! If you get angry when you are corrected, when you are told “hey this behaviour is wrong” – then you are not steadfast.
Any Christian who cannot handle correction should never be put in a position of leadership. A man who can handle correction is wise. Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth. He told one crowd “your father is satan”. That’s correction! If you received that correction, you would grow. If you hated Jesus because of it you would not grow.
Once Jesus told Peter “get behind me satan”, and it corrected Peter, and he became a great minister and preacher. I have never called someone satan to their face, thought I have seen a number of people act like it, but if I thought someone could receive that level of correction, I would, because it would lead them to a higher level of life, success and ministry!
You should praise God for people in your life who love you enough to share wisdom with you and correct you. So many people are spiritual orphans, they have disassociated themselves from anyone who could ever correct them. They are so far off course they are in a place of complete unfruitfulness, and they get angry if you try and bring them back on course.
Another think that makes us go off course is being stubborn. Ecc. 4.13 says that a stubborn foolish king will no longer be admonished. I know many stubborn Christians who will never listen to advice. Never change their ways. They will hold onto their lifestyle no matter what anyone says to them. That is stubborn. We all need advice!
I have told people not to do a certain act or respond a certain way to a situation. No one has ever been stubborn to Biblical advice and then grown in grace!
Another people go off course because they love the world. Demas turned his back from Paul – what a step out of course that would be. Having the chance to be mentored by Paul and turn your back on him. Why would anyone do something do destructive? Demas loved the world (2 Tim. 4.10). He lost his way and got off course because he loved the world. He was too weak to stand against the temptations the world offered him. If you love someone, you will move in their direction. If you love the world, you will steer towards the world and get off course.
That love for the world is one of the major reasons people are not steadfast. They get off course, they gravitate to things a Christian has no business gravitating towards – lust, foolishness, stealing, getting offended and bitter. This what prodigal sons do – they get offended they are not getting their inheritance NOW (whether it is the pulpit they feel they are entitled to, the chance to be heard, the promotion they want). They are weak so they are easily drawn off course. Christians feel that they are missing something in the world and chase after it.
These are just some of the reasons people go off course. The underlying reason is that they are weak. A little thing offends them and they leave a church. A little thing upsets them and they don’t pray all day. A little thing nudges them and they get so upset and they run off. A little temptation attracts them and they leave for some carnal toy.
But not you – no – you BE STEADFAST! Stay on course!