“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” — 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14

Our teacher, Mrs. Lines, took our second-grade class by train to Washington, D.C. At the age of 7, I saw many awesome wonders. One of the most impressive things from that trip is still stamped indelibly in my mind: the Washington Monument.

Standing 555 feet tall, the Washington Monument is short compared to the Empire State Building or the World Trade Center. But it is the world’s tallest piece of masonry not dependent on a steel frame.

The monument dominates the city of Washington, D.C. Its foundation goes down deep into the earth as it towers above its surroundings: the dust, the dirt, the grime, the petty, the sordid, the corruptions and sins of the city. It is a classic example of the godly man.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I hope you will take time to honor a man who has stood firm in your life, who has weathered the storms, who has been unbending, faithful and loving.

Our text speaks of such a man. Plus, David said in Psalm 1:1-2, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers? But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” He also says in Psalm 119:30: “I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me.”

The Washington Monument has stood the test of time because of its stability. And the man who has the stability of the Lord Jesus Christ in his heart will stand the test of time also.

It is not easy or popular to be a Christian in today’s world. Christians are ridiculed, belittled, called old fashioned, and even called racists. And the bolder one’s faith, the stronger the persecution. Yet, the godly man towers over all others, like the Washington Monument towers over an entire city.

The monument was built during a time of difficulty. Abraham Lincoln was president when the cornerstone was laid July 4, 1848. The monument took 36 years, 5 months to build during the most trying times in our nation’s history.

Christians in every age have known difficulty. To stand strong and unmovable requires more than just a desire; it requires a firm foundation and commitment.

One of my favorite parables is that of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The older son stood firm and faithful. The younger son went his own way in spite of the godly upbringing he had.

Words are not adequate to describe the hurt that comes when one of the children you raised turns his or her back on all they have been taught There are few things that reach the depth of pain that such an act brings. But the father’s love never wavered. To me he is the example of a godly father; he never stopped loving this son.

Homes without a strong, spiritual head are incomplete. The apostle Paul said, “act like men.” And then he explains what that means. “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be strong!” In other words, develop and maintain a vital relationship with God. Don’t apologize for it or view it as a sign of weakness. Be strong enough to be completely devoted to God.

Then he gives a second requirement for true manhood: “Do everything in love.” Don’t try to prove yourself by being macho. In all your relationships, learn to mix strength with sensitivity, toughness with tenderness, leadership with submission. Be authentic! Lead with firmness but submit with humility. Challenge with a cutting edge yet encourage with enthusiasm. Fight aggressively for a just cause but also weep over suffering. This is God’s design for men.

Emmett Murphy is a retired Christian church minister.