A man is something I frequently, I could likely say persistently, want and try to be. It’s something I often aspire to. Being a man. Not of the male gender, because that’s effortless, but a man. Not a boy, and maybe not even necessarily what some might call, probably less offensively, a young man, whatever weight that terminology might carry. But a man. I wish to be a man.
I can almost never, if I ever even can, articulate what I want to precisely say in the fashion I want to say it. I cannot quite get across my thoughts, my feelings, what I wish to be written out and thus communicated. The realizations or the understandings I might come to I am not eloquent, skilled, or genius enough to spew forth my words exactly appropriately in terms of how I desire to. I might strive, but reaching what some might deem “perfection” appears virtually unattainable in this light. It is like how Spurgeon is seen to be, seemingly ever-aware of his inability to present and preach and speak of the Gospel in the manner he wishes too.
So, when I say I wish to be a man, I cannot get across entirely what I want to. I cannot communicate properly the pain, the feelings, the whole idea and concept behind this reality and desire and longing and approaching horizon of this thing of “being a man.” And that may make little to no sense, so if that is so, then you can disregard those last two sentences and the paragraph prior to them as well.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.1 Corinthians 16:13
1 Corinthians 16:13 is probably one of the most quoted verses when biblical manhood is discussed. When the idea of “being a man” is examined in a biblical light. Far too little emphasis is put on manhood in our churches in the West today I think. Another reason for the plague of false churches run by evil men and women helping to ravage our society.
We see pictures of manhood in our culture, strong men, brave, fighting for what’s right. Dying and protecting and going to war. These are good things, at least generally. It must be considered and even should be applied appropriately, especially in light of our society being fraught with feminism and its atrocities.
But a picture too often overlooked and forgotten in striving for manhood I think, often even biblical manhood perhaps, is what everything ought to be focused upon. If we are fighting, then what are we fighting for? If we go take up an offense, for what purpose? If we die, what cause? Our primary cause and fight should be, of course, the One True, Living God. That is true, that is correct, but I think we might too often lose sight of what that means. That it means we fight for the Gospel and its proclamation, and fight for the people of God.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.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 firm.Ephesians 6:12-13
We stand against sin and evil. We stand against the devil himself and his legions. We fight against evil spirits, against the very real creatures of darkness that will cause illness. That will mess with thoughts. That will tell you to kill yourself, will possess people, oppress the minds of God’s children, lie to our families, destroy marriages, divide churches, break apart friendships, cause depression and bouts of anxiety, and try to murder human beings, in essence. They hold back only as much as God makes them.
The devil is at work. We must be at work too. And what heals marriages? What mends broken friendships? What can bring back together a divided church, what can calm anxiety? Can bring joy to the depressed? God. The Gospel can heal, and mend, and fix things. What can drive out a demon? The Name of Christ Jesus. God. We have faith in our God, and that can extinguish the weapons of our enemy, as we see in Ephesians 6:16.
We don’t operate in a worldly way, or try to be men in a worldly way. We ought not, anyway.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.2 Corinthians 10:3-6
Our battle is not with people and our weapons are not worldly weapons. There is a fine line in a discussion of manhood, because conversing tangibly, physically, and externally can be very important. There is the part of manhood of working until you are bone tired to provide for a family, taking a second job when necessary, or even a third job. There is sacrificing, and being willing to literally take a bullet. There is having guns and being able to defend others. There is working out and being physically strong and taking positions of leadership. There is all that but we must primarily look to Christ and recognize that manhood is not completely hinging on that and should not be at the complete top of our priority list of things to “achieve.”
Christ Jesus was the greatest of men, and He spoke harshly, boldly, and He spoke the truth. He took stands and had near-death experiences. He sacrificed and died and did something I can never attain to as a man, and neither can you. He was stronger, bolder, braver, kinder, and more courageous than any man. How? He had His relationship with the Father in perfect condition.
As one preacher puts it for husbands, the best thing you can do for your wife, what she needs most from you, is to become more like Christ. What people need from me most is really that I become more like Christ. There is the tangible side of things, but we must be careful not to be fully there in the normal sense of how manhood is looked at.
Most certainly, work out, have a gun, be a leader, act masculine, do “manly things,” as men ought to do, doing “manly things.” But do not forget, may I not forget, that God is sufficient. He is all we need. He is what we should live for and building that relationship is far more important than building any other relationship. Studying Scripture for four hours must generally be more beneficial, I would think certainly, than working out and trying to be more of a man.
A godly man follows in the footsteps of his Heavenly Father, as Jesus did. We ought to walk like Jesus did. Jesus was most certainly a man. See how He would lose hours of sleep for the sake of ministry and for the sake of prayer. See how He rebuked and said things despite the fact that people threatened His life.
We must, must look at and apply 1 Corinthians 16:13, but we must also look at and apply 1 Corinthians 16:14:
Let all that you do be done in love.
To be honest, I think in many churches in America, manhood, with 1 Corinthians 16:13, is downplayed and overlooked and likely outright falsely taught far too often. So this post is not to say we have a widespread issue among most churches with looking too much at manhood and not seeing how men ought to fight for the Gospel and proclaim it but rather at more “physical” stuff, or typical stuff I guess.
But, the point is that men of God ought to fight for righteousness sake, for what is morally right, but ultimately the Gospel should be what we fight for. The Gospel is what saves. Jesus Christ is the most desperate need of every human being— the salvation that comes by and through no one else except THE Lord and THE Savior of the world.
As men, we should be committed to our families to love and care for them, and becoming more like Christ is how that ought to be done. There are physical aspects and whatnot, of course. But Christ was a man and took care of physical things as well. We see Jesus do this in John 19, as He dies on the cross and gives over care of His mother to John.
There is two sides to this we usually think I believe, but it really all comes together into one thing it seems to me. Christ ought to be integrated throughout our whole lives, He ought to consume it all and be ever-present in and through it all. He is the center, the focus, our great God and King. We serve Him as men, and His orders He has made clear. Keep His commandments; we are called to love, and we are called to proclaim the Gospel.
We cannot be the men we ought to be without Christ. Fighting through life, working 14 hour days, making sacrifices, facing heartbreak and pain, all that cannot be done by our own strength to the glory of God, if we must do something like that. The Lord is my strength, my refuge, my shelter. I have not strength pulled out from within me to use. I have nothing but what my God and King gives to me.
Know the Gospel. Share the Gospel. Preach the Gospel. Use words. Articulate it. Speak it out. Die to yourself. Live for Christ.
I’ve been told the lesson again and again I think, a lesson spelled in the words of a hymn:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
It’s one foot in front of the other, as I keep getting reminded. It’s trusting the Lord. We sometimes make it too complicated. Look to the Word, use wisdom, pray, read the Scriptures, trust in God, listen to wise, godly people. Trust and obey.
Be a better man by following Christ better. Come to know Christ better. Love Christ better. But not out of your own strength and hard working efforts, relying simply on that. Rely on Christ. Call out to God for help. Ask Him to help you to trust and obey.
I don’t write this because I know everything about manhood and I’m some awesome person that’s perfect and is a really strong, brave, amazing man that doesn’t need taught anything. I’m freakin’ 18 years old. But this is what I think I’ve learned, at least to some extent. I think at least most of it’s true, I may have messed up somewhere with writing this, but Lord-willing I did not. Look to God’s Word and test it, test me. Tell me I’m wrong if I am.
I need wisdom, advice, I need to learn much still. But I’m trying to be a man. I want to be. I want to be strong, and I want to love rightly, to the glory of God. I want to become more like Christ. May we all.
All glory to God forever, amen.
All direct verse quotations are taken from the ESV
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