I came across a word recently in reading, that is not uncommon, but I had never spent much time thinking about. The word firm is a word used in many ways and in many contexts. There is nothing extremely revolutionary about the word’s meaning—to have a solid and unyielding surface. But it’s one of those words that when changed from an adjective to an adverb or verb, it comes to life and can have an extremely transformational result.
We hear the phrase “stand firm” a lot around our values, believes and convictions. Tim Keller writes that stand firm is essentially a military word. We have all stood firm over and around something throughout our lives, whether it was as a child refusing to eat our vegetables, as teenager with a relationship, or as adults in our beliefs.
Tim Keller, in his book Galatians for You, briefly lays out three qualities of firmness I would like to expand on here:
- Firmness is about being alert. When we stand firm, we must immediately realize there will come opposition. We must always be alert of not only the opposition, but how our firmness is communicated. We can be firm and still be loving, graceful and accepting. Too many times our firmness blurs the line of stubbornness to others, and so we want to fight a battle that may not be there. It’s like the squirrel that runs around on my roof in the mornings—I don’t like it and I wish he didn’t, but in reality, until he is doing real damage, I’m alert to the fact his main goal is not to irritate me, he is only doing what he knows.
- Firmness is about being strong. When we stand firm, it requires strength. It requires a strength that no one or nothing can tear us down. We have always lived in a world where declaration will lead to division…someone out there is always on the other side. When I work out with weights, I realize many times the weights and their movements have the ability to knock me off balance, so I must firmly place my feet on the ground, gripping the foundation and holding strongly to the foundation under me. For me, the foundation is Jesus. I’ve tried other foundations in my life to give me strength, money, relationships, careers and other desires, and none of them worked. My faith has always provided to me the strength I need.
- Firmness is about sticking together. We are always stronger when we are together. We always need others to stand with us. I love the community of Jesus followers that stand with me and I with them through all the hard times and the celebrations. When we stick together, we keep each other balanced, help each other up, and push each other forward. When you think about it, sticking together produces a stronger firmness. The journey of faith together is rewarding and transformational for one another, and for the world.
I pray you stand firm and lead differently!