I was a bus monitor in sixth grade. (Ha. My autocorrect just turned “monitor” to “monster” which is perhaps more accurate!) I took my job very seriously, so when a few of the boys were disrupting the quiet line order, I demanded to know what was so engrossing. That was my introduction to The Hobbit. My school mates challenged me to read the book before I judged it and so began a lifetime of fascination with all things Lord of the Rings. (Thank you, Tim, Myles and Mark!)
I tell you this because whenever I hear the term stand firm, I think of Aragorn in the movie version of The Fellowship of The Rings. In a dramatic scene, Aragon realizes the enemy is advancing and to save the ring, he must let Frodo go on ahead. This means that Aragon must deal with the advancing army of orcs—all alone. Aragorn draws his sword, whips around and—stands firm. He is grossly outnumbered yet he does not run. Rather, he stands his ground, faces them and begins fighting madly because he represents the side of goodness and truth.
Like Aragorn, King David’s mighty men knew how to stand firm. Once, Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. (2 Samuel 29:10). And Shammah took his stand in the middle of a lentil field and defended it, striking down the enemy Philistines (2 Samuel 23:11–12).
Standing firm is a familiar theme in Scripture. The Apostle Paul tells us,
Therefore, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!Philippians 4:1
In this instance, to stand firm (in Greek steko) means to persist or persevere in godliness and morally correct behavior or thinking, (i.e. righteousness) and in one’s fellowship with the Lord.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul says to hold fast to the teachings he passed on. In 1 Corinthians 16:13, he says to be be on guard, courageous and strong. And in Philippians 1:27, he admonishes us to strive together for the faith.
In good hermeneutical fashion, I have to ask, “What is therefore, there for” and “What does in the Lord in this way mean”? Paul is pointing back to the previous chapter where he painted a picture of our citizenship in heaven and our transformation by God’s power (Philippians 3:20–21). He is saying that this enables us to stand firm. “The way believers stand in the Lord is through the transforming, reigning, resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Sandra Glahn).
So for me today, this means that because of Christ’s power in me, I can maintain allegiance to Christ and courageously cling to the teachings of Scripture. This does not mean I can stubbornly or obnoxiously focus on minutiae or destroy relationships in an attempt to hold to truth. I am standing firm “in the Lord”, not in my agenda or my ego or my reputation. Sometimes standing firm is just continuing to faithfully serve where I am planted even if it seems mundane or uneventful. Sometimes standing firm is fighting a huge battle such as Aragon did.
The way to stand firm is to remember that this world is not our home, to await our Savior, to focus on the fact that Christ will bring everything under his control and our bodies will be transformed.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:58
What battle do you find yourself in today?
In what ways are you standing firm?
Father God, teach me to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then I will stand firm in one spirit, contending for the gospel, without being frightened by those who oppose me (Philippians 1:27–28). Help me stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured (Colossians 4:12).