There are times when we have to take a stand for ourselves or what we believe. That stand may simply be by speaking up our thoughts, or expressing our decision. In some situations, however, we may be in for a fight to be able to stand up for what we believe or choose.
When dealing with dominating people, or people determined to push their agenda, or processes and systems designed to steamroll people, it can be quite a challenge to take a stand at all, let alone to be sure we have done it properly.
In past decades assertiveness training has become popular, for those who feel they are disadvantaged by pressure from others. We have had the popularisation of ‘boundaries’ as a way of pushing back against people who trample onto our territory. Workplace unions explored lines of demarkation, to determine which trade was responsible for what and ensure people are appropriately compensated for what they do.
With the landscape muddied by messages about standing up for ourselves, being our own person, having clear boundaries, demanding what we want the way we want it, being an individual, resisting old fashioned ideas of submission and respect for authority, along with increases in abuse, insensitivity, selfishness and the like, it is good to take time to explore the Right Way to Stand.
The Bible teaches us to Stand. The Apostle Paul recognised that as Christians, we would have to stand for righteousness and for our faith, while others would oppose us. In some cases standing for our faith led to beatings, persecution and martyrdom.
“Stand firm therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
“Be on the alert. Stand firm in the faith. Be men of courage. Be strong.” 1Corinthians 16:13
“Therefore take up the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13
Since ‘standing’ is a Biblical concept we should expect God to have provided wisdom about the right way to do it. And that’s what we find.
The Apostle Paul tells us to stand, in Ephesians 6, then goes on to list the armour we need when we stand against evil, including the devil and those who oppose our faith.
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 6:14-18
Let me summarise that for you, and get away from the metaphor of armour, since that might be distracting. Paul is instructing us to take our stands on the basis of truth, righteousness (right living), peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God, plus prayer.
To help you see applying that in normal life let’s take a random example of a youth who has come to faith and is opposed by a parent who dislikes Christians. Let’s assume the parent is aggressively assertive that the child immediately give up their faith and their interest in religion. The youth wants to keep standing for God and for their faith. So what is the Right Way to Stand?
Paul says we should maintain truth. This is different to those who might suggest the youth lie to his parents about his activities. Paul does not advocate deception.
Paul also advocates righteous living. Becoming angry and aggressive toward the parent, which might be natural for some, is not righteous living. Becoming resentful, belligerent, argumentative, pouting, manipulating or the like is far from being righteous. We are to stand with the breastplate of righteousness, which suggests our right living has to come from our heart (which is protected by the breastplate), not just an appearance of good things.
Paul also points to peace. The gospel brings us peace with God and is meant to lead us to peace with others. Paul advises elsewhere that, as much as we are able, we are to live in peace with people.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” Romans 12:18
Next Paul speaks of faith. When we are in a tight spot our deliverance comes from God, so we need to have faith to put our challenges in God’s hands and wait on Him for His deliverance. Solomon advocated trusting in the Lord, and his instruction in Proverbs has led to a cute prompt you may have heard – “When in trouble and a fix, turn to Proverbs 3, 5 and 6.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6
In looking to the Lord we look for His salvation, or rescue. God has a way through things, even if it’s a hard road. He may ask us to suffer, or He may make us wait for His answer, or He may use us to impact the hearts of those who oppose us. Whatever God does we need to trust in His salvation.
We find God’s guidance in His Word, so we uphold the Word of God as we endure trials. We allow God to work patience in us and all kinds of good things, even through the opposition. We keep looking to God’s Word for guidance and comfort, not compromising what God says.
And we keep on praying. We keep crying out to God for deliverance and for God to work in the hearts of those who oppose us.
That is how Paul tells us to stand. Whether you are up against people or governments, facing rejection or abuse, subtly opposed or resisted with force, you are called to stand for what is right and what is true. However that isn’t a call to become a radical, rebel, subversive, or objectionable and evil person.
You are called to stand, and so according to God’s Word learn The Right Way to Stand.