Alliance News Feed – God’s Charge to Men
by Craig Glass
Toward the end of his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13). Since he was writing to the whole church, it’s important to point out that his words were for women as well as men. But in this case, I want to lay out what I believe these words say specifically to men today.
Be on Your Guard
What is it we are to guard? The answer can be found in Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. No. 1 on our list, before we do anything else, is guard our hearts. Why? Because our heart is the source of our life. It’s where everything starts.
Our heart is the source of our purity; we need to guard it from sin. From the context of the passage in Proverbs it’s clear the author is urging us to pursue purity in our words. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips (4:24).
It’s easy for us to slide into coarse language, questionable jokes, or teasing that demeans others. Given the slippery morals promoted by TV shows and movies, it’s easy to let our own thoughts and language start to slide.
Allowing our minds to drift into lust is probably even more of a temptation for many of us. We have most likely already proven ourselves vulnerable to this. We must understand that the longing that compels men to pursue pornography or real-life affairs is actually a longing for connection, for significance, for intimacy, and for beauty. Every one of those longings is God-given, but we are pursuing them in broken ways.
Guarding our hearts means that we invest attention and effort into eliminating coarse language, thoughts, and actions from our lives.
Stand Firm in the Faith
The second phrase in 1 Corinthians 16:13 is, Stand firm in the faith. The economic, political, domestic, and international issues we read in the headlines today are unsettling for all of us. Amid this volatile reality we are challenged by Paul to stand firm.
How do we stand firm? Psalm 20:7 and 8 gives us the proper perspective: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
Some trust in chariots . . . Chariots were the high technology of the day, an advanced means of transportation and a weapon of war. An equivalent reliance for us today would be an over-dependence on technology, trusting that our cleverness, intellect, and modern systems will get us through any challenge. Technology betrays us on a regular basis. It has brought us enormous ability to communicate and learn; it has also brought exceptional complexity and vulnerability to our lives.
Psalm 20 goes on to say, Some trust in horses. Horses were the most powerful animals of biblical times. Even today we measure power and strength by horsepower. A parallel meaning for us would be to put our trust in sheer effort and force of will.
Effort is commendable. God invented work, and we should never allow ourselves to be lazy or paralyzed with fear. But again, if we think sheer effort or cleverness on our part is going to be the primary source of our success we are relying on chariots and horses.
When things look desperate, the Lord tells us to stand firm on what we believe. He says through His Word, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. I will deliver you. Stand firm.”
Be Men of Courage
Our word “courage” comes from the French word Coeur or “heart.” To be men of courage is to be men who live from the heart—in the face of fear, we allow faith, conviction, and passion to guide us.
One of the best examples of a courageous man in the Old Testament is Joshua. When God called Joshua, He repeated the same phrase several times: Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18). It’s quite likely that God spoke these words because Joshua viewed himself as the opposite: weak and frightened.
How do we feel when given a task, responsibility, or leadership role we feel unqualified for? What message do we need to hear and remember? “Be strong and very courageous. Wherever you go, I am going with you.”
I live in Colorado Springs not far from the U.S. Air Force Academy. A sight that thrills most who live here is watching pilots training in gliders over the Academy property at the base of the front range of the Rocky Mountains.
With the right external lift, a glider seems capable of endless flight with no visible power of its own. That’s the image I have in mind when I read this challenge: Be strong. Really, Lord? What about when I have no visible means of power? “Yes,” He replies. “Exactly then; be strong.”
The apostle Paul himself was aware of his shortcomings. In 2 Corinthians 12 he boasts about God’s sufficiency. He will not boast about himself except of his own weakness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).
The secret to a real man’s strength is when he comes to the end of himself and then leans into God’s strength.
Do Everything in Love
These phrases in 1 Corinthians 16:13 are reassuring encouragement and powerful reminders of our calling as men: to be on our guard, to stand firm, to be courageous and strong. These phrases make sense to us. They sound masculine. We may not do all of them well, but we aspire to be like these descriptions.
But then we read verse 14: Do everything in love. Wait—what? Love? What does love have to do with strength, courage, standing firm? Having grabbed our attention, Paul now turns the message upside down and inside out. Verse 13 focuses on our inner qualities. But love? Its direction is outward and others-centered.
This transition, moving from a self-centered perspective of life to an others-centered focus is the primary distinguishing factor that sets apart noble men from selfish men. It is the distinguishing quality that separates men from boys.
I can’t think of a passage that looks more upside down to our male culture than Philippians 2:3–8. If we have any interest in being like Jesus, then it’s clear what that looks like:
- Don’t do anything out of selfish ambition.
- Consider others better than yourselves.
- Don’t look only to what benefits you but also to what benefits others.
- Our attitude should be the same as that of Jesus.
The self-absorbed male is certainly on guard—he looks out for himself. He rarely stands firm—he wavers, waiting to see which side is going to win before taking his stand. His courage and strength are filled with false bravado and posing. In the face of fear, he intimidates, powers up, or shrinks back and disappears.
On the other hand, the noble man is on guard on behalf of others. He stands firmly on what he believes and for whom he loves. He courageously acts in the face of fear to defend others, and he uses his strength in a gentle humble way to protect others.
A noble man is willing to trust God with the results of his life. He knows his life ultimately is not solely about him. It’s about bringing glory to God; it’s about being transformed into the image of Christ; it’s about living for others.
Be on your guard.
Stand firm in the faith.
Be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything, everything, everything in love.
This is God’s charge to men. He wrote these qualities on every man’s heart; He built these characteristics into you. Bring them up from your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And where you fall short, God is there. Trust Him to do above and beyond what you can do in your own ability.
Adapted from Noble Journey: The Quest for a Lasting Legacy by Craig Glass. Copyright 2017. Used with permission.
Source: Alliance News Feed – God’s Charge to Men