Excellent article from Saltshakers Magazine of CERC (Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church, Singapore).
Woon Tian Loong is a member of CERC.
Salt Shakers| Guidance for Youth
The godly man. The godly man. The manly man. The Lord delights in him. His wife leans on him. His children look up to him. The church looks for men like him. The brothers desire a friend like him. The young girls dream of a man like him. But shall he be found, and, what is he like?
“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).
In this text, we find the exhortation to “quit ye like men”. While this text could have a wider target, this text is targeted especially at, and comes first to, the men. “Quit you like men.” The term “quit” simply means to “behave in a specified way”.1 Behave like men. It seems that terms like this are assumed to be understood — that we generally understand the concept of what a man is. However, does Scripture have anything to say about being a man? In this text, we find that connected with the idea of being a man is being strong. The chief characteristic of a young man is his strength. When we examine other passages of scripture that uses a similar language as “quit ye like men”, we find that in exhorting men to be men, men are exhorted to be strong.
David charged Solomon — “…be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man…” (1 King. 2:2)
We have strength that is outside of ourselves, yea, the strength of the almighty, omnipotent God. “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (1 Jn. 2:14). Notice then, the present tense “are”. This means that right now, we have strength. Strength, because our almighty God fights our battles for us and works all things for our good. And if we have strength to overcome even sin, and the devil, then surely, we can say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all (spiritual) things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phi. 4:13).
Yet, the text that we consider in 1 Corinthians says, “Be Strong” (and not “ye are strong”). This implies, then, that there is an inclination that we, as men, might not want to be strong or to manifest that strength that we have in the Lord. Furthermore, it implies that we have to manifest that strength which God gives to us in order to fulfil the callings that God gives to us and the battles which He fights through us.
The source of a man’s strength is God alone, and he has it by faith. He believes in the Almighty Lord who out of nothing made the heavens and the
this victory (1 John 5:4-5)!
Not only our faith but also our hope is informed by the truth of the imago
dei. At our resurrection, we shall be God’s perfect image-bearers (Ps. 17:15; 1 Cor. 15:49). Then, in Christ, we will exercise a far greater kingship over the
universe than ever Adam did before the fall (Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 8). This is well worth waiting for!. Even the ungodly Philistine soldiers, when they were sore afraid, encouraged each other to be men and be strong — “Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines…” (1 Sam. 4:9).
What is strength then? It is the ability to perform the task or overcome the challenge that is before him. It is also the ability to bear up under a burden. Physically, a strong man has the ability to lift heavier objects than a weak man. More than physical strength however, the strength that scripture commands us to is spiritual strength which will also lead to emotional strength.
A man in himself is weak. He thinks himself strong. He thinks himself strong when he is able to perform a certain task or has accomplished (what the eyes of men consider) a difficult task. It may be that he is able to build an entire nation from the dust or attempt a tower that reaches the skies (if left unobstructed). Nevertheless, a spiritual man, when he scans God’s wondrous heavens, knows how weak he is [paraphrase of Psalter 15]. Besides, whatever strength a man may be gifted with, he is not able to overcome the final enemy, death — he can neither do so for himself nor for the ones that he loves. (Likewise for sin, etc., and the list continues).
We who are men, however, who are called according to the election of God,
Because a man has strength, he has these characteristics: He does not give up but perseveres. Just as how a physically strong man does not give up the load that he is carrying easily, so a spiritually strong man does not give up the responsibilities laid upon him easily. Though his responsibilities are hard to bear, trusting in God, he seeks strength to endure the hardships that come with the responsibility.
He is not quick to complain. Of the many things that we complain about, how often do we complain because we perceive that the problem is too great or at the threshold of what we can handle? Likewise, when a task is easy and well within our abilities, then how much less do we complain? So also the strong man. It is not so much that he presumes that the tasks that he is given will be easy, but he understands that God will preserve him and so he does not complain but prays even when he is feeling overwhelmed. He prays for strength of heart and skill to accomplish that seemingly impossible task before him.
He is not upset or feel offended easily. Spiritual strength includes the ability to take insults and offence. As a wall can easily withstand the punches of a child and not be damaged in any way, so can a strong man take insults and offence and not be hurt by the opinions and words of others. This does not mean that he does not care. He, being spiritual, does care. He cares when the insults of others are caused by his actions and sins and he wants to seek reconciliation. He cares when his loved ones are insulted. He cares if the name of God is blasphemed and in strength, defends the name of God. What he is not easily affected by though, is the negativity of others on him personally.
He has confidence. A strong man has confidence in the things that he is good in. Likewise, a spiritually strong man has the confidence that God will work all things for his good to the glory of God. He is bold to do that which is right. He knows that there might be unpleasant backlash and suffering from doing that which is right. However, he has strength of heart to endure the suffering and does what he needs to do.
He is steadfast in faith. He knows the word of God. He knows that if he were to live it out faithfully, he might suffer ridicule or even be persecuted. He knows that the truth of God is unpopular in this sinful world. Many will try to shake him, and question if what he holds on to is worth it. Nevertheless, he is strong to endure the mockings that come because of faithfulness to the word of God.
What other parts of scripture pertain to this topic, and what are the temptations that surround a man so that he is tempted to not want to be a man? Let us explore these in the next instalment.
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