Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. (Philippians 4:1—NKJV)

Do you remember your grade school days when you and your classmates were told to stand in line according to height? It may have been in preparation for your class picture, a sports event, or simply to give you youngsters something to do. The instructions were given and then a scramble ensued. Amidst the jumble of kids trying to get in line there was the usual sadness of leaving your friends behind (there is always a natural desire to stand next to your buddies) in order to follow directions. You pursued your task by comparing your height against everyone else. In time, the lineup was complete, each kid standing in his place. The order in which you stood was determined for you by definite direction (teacher says), forces outside your control (the cold fact of your stature), and a call to obedience (your responsibility as a kid).

A quick review of “stand” in the dictionary serves to remind you of the many shades of meaning in this simple, yet powerful word. Foundationally, there is the physical aspect of standing. From infancy we all struggle to stand upright. What parent does not fondly recall firmly holding his child’s hands, assisting him to stand, or watching him pull himself up by sheer effort and see his face light up when he was upright—standing on his own! Standing signifies health (as opposed to bedridden and ill), action (rather than distraction), readiness (not rest), respect (instead of entertainment), accountability (in place of indifference and self-interest), and reverence (as distinct from neutrality and obligation). The significance of the word is seen in such popular expressions as “stand and be counted,” “stand your ground,” “stand up for,” “take your stand,” “I won’t stand for it any more,” and “last one standing.”

There is an undeniably masculine component to the word in that proper etiquette requires a man to stand out of deference to a woman when she is standing, and give up his seat in order to allow a woman to have a seat; the man walks on the more dangerous traffic side of the sidewalk, and he must stand in the way of danger to protect wife and family. To remain standing when no one else is, to remain standing when all others have been vanquished, to remain standing for the sake of principle, character, or devotion is one of the cardinal, martial, and signal marks of real manhood—though not exclusive to men, for women of character exhibit the trait also.

Paul uses the term, perhaps harking back to such passages as Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord…”; Psalm 1:5, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment…”; Psalm 130:3, “If you should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?”; and 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

The Greek root translated “to stand” can be rightly translated “to appoint, to establish, and to set” (Titus 1:5, “appoint elders” and Hebrews 5:1, “For every high priest…is appointed”). To stand is a deliberate act as our Philippians 4:1 states. Since “the foundation of God stands” (2 Timothy 2:19), the believer must “stand fast in the liberty” (Galatians 5:1), standing “fast in one Spirit” (Philippians 1:27), for “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:1–2).

Believer, 1 Corinthians 16:13 states, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” Ephesians 6:13 reads, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Trust and obey.