Calvary Road Baptist Church

“DISCOURAGED BY THE TRUTH”

First Corinthians 16.12-14 

Please stand with your Bible turned to First Corinthians 16.12 and read along silently while I read aloud: 

12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time. 

Hold your place so we can quickly come back to it in a bit.

In this verse, the great Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that he wanted that magnificent Bible preacher Apollos to journey to Corinth and preach the Word of God to them, but that Apollos did not want to come at that time, for one reason or another, but would perhaps come later. Why did Paul want Apollos to go to Corinth and preach? I think I know. Let’s try to place ourselves in the Corinthian’s shoes for a moment or two so I can explain what I believe the Apostle Paul had in mind.

How would you feel if you had been saved for 4 or 5 years if you had learned in that time to live in Christian liberty and toleration, and if you had gloried in being a wonderfully gifted Christian ... and then all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, you get a long letter from Paul? As the letter is read to you by the pastor, you realize that Paul has written an inspired letter that forcefully and powerfully convinces you (convicts might be a better word) that you are not only unspiritual but that you are unwittingly the cause of divisions within your Church.

Further, as more of the letter is read, you are shown that your inability to deal with sin properly in your family or in your own personal life has given your Church and the cause of Christ, a horrible testimony in the community. Finally, the letter reveals that you do not know anything about the Christian liberty you supposedly were enjoying. You lack knowledge of the principles of God’s chain of command in your home. You do not know the first thing about proper conduct during the Lord’s Supper.

You do not know anything about the spiritual gifts you have and are using improperly. You have forgotten the tremendous importance that Jesus Christ’s resurrection is supposed to play in the Christian’s life. And you don’t even know how to take up an offering properly! I mean, after reading Paul’s first Corinthian letter, your spiritual world has come down on your head. You who thought you had it licked have suddenly been forced to admit to yourself, as has almost everyone else in your Church, “Hey, I’m nothing!” And the result is that you’re depressed, you’re discouraged, and you’re disheartened.

Paul, who has been a Christian for some 25 years now, remembers and has experienced these same feelings and realizations in his own life many times and knows just what these people now need. What they need is to be uplifted and encouraged by dynamic Bible preaching. Well, who’s the best Bible preacher there is? It certainly isn’t Paul. He’d be the first to tell you that. And it’s not Peter. The best Bible preacher in the entire world is a man named Apollos. He can exhort you. He can lift you up. He can get you going again. But he isn’t coming.

Do you ever get discouraged like these folks were discouraged? Have you ever had the air knocked entirely out of you? Have you ever been discouraged by the truth? I have been. And it’s happened to me so many times that I am in danger of becoming an expert on the subject ... and it’s an expertise I don’t want to have.

When truth hits you like this and pops your bubble (and it will), it is not always God’s will that you be cheered up by the preacher. When you get down, especially when you are down because your unrealistic estimations of yourself have been proven wrong by painful experience or Scriptural truth, there is no Biblical guarantee that someone should come along and cheer you up.

I mean, it’s not always God’s will that you be lifted up and encouraged by someone else, be it a spouse, friend, or pastor. Good feelings are not God’s goal for you. And why not? Because God wants you and me to discover something. He wants us to discover that we have been given the tools for dealing with our discouragement. You have been given the spiritual tools to deal with and conquer the discouragements in your own life. You don’t always have to depend on others to do this for you or get angry when someone points your shortcomings out to you, which are signs of immaturity. There comes a time when believers have to move beyond the beginner level of Christian maturity.

In First Corinthians 16.13-14, Paul, looking at the problem of discouragement from the human side alone, outlines two areas in your life that will give you the victory over discouragement and disillusionment. Let’s stand once more. Again, you read silently while I read aloud, verses 13-14: 

13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

14 Let all your things be done with charity. 

First, THERE IS THE AREA OF ACTION 

I don’t have to tell you that discouragement frequently paralyzes professing Christians. But you and I don’t have to allow that to happen to us. You don’t have to be like so many who give up and say to themselves, “What’s the use?” Let’s, right now, decide to follow the advice and counsel of a man who conquered more discouragement and disappointment in a year than most of us will see in a lifetime. And what is that advice? Take action.

Paul first tells us what action to take by telling us what to do. There are two things we must do, you must do, to conquer depression and discouragement:

First, Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Watch ye.” From gregorέoo, to watch, to stay awake, to be alert, Paul tells his sad readers to “Stay alert!”[1] Christians are soldiers in the Lord’s army, Second Timothy 2.3. But we sometimes overlook the tendency that discouraged troops must forget to remain vigilant while standing guard. To remain faithful and watchful, we must stop being so selfish that we forget that there’s an enemy out there to watch for who’s a deadly adversary. So, if you are troubled and disappointed that you are not as knowledgeable or as spiritual or as mature or as well thought of as you might have wanted to believe you were, don’t sulk, and certainly don’t lash out in anger. Maybe you’ve discovered that you’re not nearly as pretty as you’d like. Perhaps you’re not as promotable at work or as employable as you want. Perhaps your singing voice isn’t as melodic as you’d thought. Whatever it may be, what do you do? Lift up your chin and watch.

Paul then tells the Corinthians to “stand fast” in the faith. Okay. The first thing a depressed or discouraged soldier typically does is stop watching. Instead, he mopes around. He sulks. His feelings turn inward. Picture a soldier who feels sad or gets mad. Allowing his improper thoughts to control his actions, he begins to look down instead of looking out, or at someone he is mad at instead of looking out. Next thing you know, he will start leaning at his post instead of standing at his post. And finally, he will sit down. At this point, he has dropped out, given up, and has gone AWOL. Absent without leave. To counter that tendency, Paul writes, stήkoo, “stand fast” in the faith.[2]

So, Paul tells us to do right. But you and I know it takes special people to do special things. Paul knew this as well. For that reason, he tells us not only what to do in times of discouragement but also what to be:

First, he tells us to be men: “Quit you like men!” This translates the single Greek imperative verb, ἀndrίzomai, which means “make a man!” Paul wants Christians to be manly! Oh, how is this command needed in our day of wimpy men? Be manly and brave. Courageous.[3] Don’t give up on Christianity. Don’t desert the Church that Jesus died for. Nothing that will ever happen to you can excuse you from leaving your post! Stand fast. Stand tall. Stick with the faith ... and watch! And, ladies? Even you are expected to act like a man when you become depressed or discouraged. I think Paul means by this, “Don’t be a quitter. Don’t be a crybaby. Be manly about this thing. Keep on keeping on.” Hey, if that’s what being a man is all about, some of the best men I have ever known are women in this Church. I wonder how many men Paul would approach who’ve stopped witnessing, who’ve stopped giving, who’ve stopped reading God’s Word, who’ve begun to look for reasons to stop attending Church, because they are depressed, or because they are downhearted, or because they are sulking, or because they feel stressed, or because they are mad at someone? I wonder how many times Paul would have said to me, and how many of you he would say, in his unique way, “Brother, you’re not being manly at all, in the Bible sense. You’re acting like a little child over this matter. Suck it up!” You see, folks, you must be a man to watch and stand fast. And God wants His people to be manly in this respect. Manly is not wimpy. Neither is manly being a hothead.

Next, Paul tells us to “be strong.” This word “strong,” krataiόw, is unusual in the New Testament in that it is used only three other times, twice used by Luke in describing the Lord’s childhood. Let’s look at the third use of this word, Paul’s only use of the term. Turn to Ephesians 3.14-16: 

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. 

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be “strengthened” (there’s our word krataiow) by the Spirit of God. Strengthening, then, is a work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life on the so-called “inner man” of a believer. It is safe to say that a Christian is not strong because he has not used the means of grace the Holy Spirit provides to do a strengthening work in his life.

Are you a Spirit-quencher? Do you grieve the Spirit of God? You will be a weak Christian if you are not what the Spirit of God wants you to be. Discouragement and depression will defeat you as much as anger does if you don’t drink from God’s fountain of sustaining grace. But if you are nourished and obedient, God will make you spiritually strong. And with spiritual strength comes Christian manliness. Will you obey God and witness to men about Jesus? Will you obey God and give to His cause? Will you obey God and provide spiritual leadership to your wife and children? People who obey in such areas as these are quite simply stronger in the “inner man” than those of you who do not so obey God. But if you obey the Word of God, and if you yield to the Holy Spirit, He will strengthen you and make you a spiritually stronger believer. And being a spiritually stronger Christian, by God’s grace and through God’s Spirit, you will more faithfully watch ... you will more faithfully stand fast in the faith. This is the action area of your life in the battle against depression and discouragement. Take action to do right. Take action to be right. But if these actions are not taken, you have elected to be a pathetically depressed and discouraged person, even though you don’t have to be. 

RIGHT ACTIONS ARE TREMENDOUSLY IMPORTANT, BUT RIGHT ACTION IS NOT ENOUGH. THERE MUST ALSO BE, WITH RIGHT ACTION, RIGHT ATTITUDE (16.14) 

14   Let all your things be done with charity. 

“Charity” is love. You might remember that it is what Paul leads us to pursue in First Corinthians 14.1, and it is wonderfully described in First Corinthians 13.4-8. Let’s read those two passages: 

14.1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 

13.4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

13.5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

13.6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

13.7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

13.8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 

If you were to take this whole concept of love and charity and choose a single word that was synonymous with the idea, I’m convinced the word you would use would be “giving.” Giving of yourself, giving to meet needs, giving, as opposed to taking.

The discouraged, depressed, and despondent Christian tends to be an incredibly selfish individual. And it’s pretty easy to see this selfishness when you think about it. If he or she gives up, for whatever reason, if he or she quits, quits the job, quits the marriage, quits the Church, then it is quite evident that Christians are not thinking about Christ, not looking unto Jesus.

He or she is not thinking about the needs of others or the impact his life has on others. He or she can only be thinking of themselves. This is the individual who clamors for “me” time. By anyone’s definition, that is selfishness.

But when there is love and charity as the governing principle behind all that you say and do ... whether it be love for Christ or love for others, that Christian will not quit. He will not give up. He will not bail.

Love, especially love for Christ, will move a believer to be strong when he thinks no strength remains. Love will move you to be manly when you feel like a little boy who wants to quit.

Further, love like that produces loyalty to the cause of Christ, to the person of Christ, and the people of Christ. Such love will manifest itself by watching when you feel like hanging your head in despair and standing when you feel like sitting down or running away. 

Hey, every Christian gets discouraged. The hardest discouragement to deal with is the discouragement that comes from learning the truth about yourself, such as when you thought you had it licked, when you thought you had it together, or when you thought you knew what was going on, only to find out otherwise.

When this kind of thing happens to you, and you get emotionally down, decide that you won’t stay down. Decide that, by God’s grace, you will pull out of it. And how does one do that? By acting as you ought to act at all times anyway. Do the right things. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith.” And then be the right person. “Quit you like men, be strong.”

Take that kind of action at all times, especially when you are discouraged by the truth, and you’ll be well on your way to recovering the joy that is yours to have as a Christian, the joy you would not have lost had you done this in the first place. And don’t forget your attitude. That’s critical. “Let all your things be done with charity.” Don’t rule out the possibility that God allowed the discouragement to enter your life for the express purpose of renewing and rekindling your love for Him and for His people.

My friend, let me ask you, “Are you discouraged and depressed, and do you feel defeated right now? Have you all but given up?” If so, go home and implement Paul’s outlined measures to the Corinthian Church members. However, if you fail, resolve not to remain discouraged and despondent. Please allow me to lift your spirits. Let me try to encourage your heart with God’s Word. But if I try and fail, don’t presume that God has left you high and dry.

Remember, God has given you the means to encourage yourself if you are truly converted. And why should you encourage yourself? Why should I motivate myself? So we can continue to serve God, so we can keep on doing right, so we can be men about things instead of children, and so we can love Jesus like we ought to.

As we prepare to stand and pray, settle this matter in your heart. Don’t wait for Apollos to come and cheer you up. He’s not coming. A better than Apollos is already here. He’s the Spirit of God, and He dwells inside you, Christian. As we bow our heads in a word of prayer before we sing, you decide now to do right.

And what should you do if you feel discouraged and depressed and you’re not a Christian? Let me tell you, if your sins have not been forgiven and your destiny is Hellfire, you have no reason to be anything but discouraged and depressed.

But your situation can be forever changed, your discouragement replaced by great joy, your destiny altered from Hell to heaven, when you repent of your sins and trust Jesus Christ to wash away your sins in His precious blood, to forgive them and never remember them again, and to make you a child of God.

__________

[1] Rogers, Jr., Cleon L. and Rogers III, Cleon L., The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1998), page 390.

[2] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 944-945.

[3] Rogers, page 390.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

Pastor@CalvaryRoadBaptist.Church