a voice crying out in the postmodern wilderness

Manspirations: Strength

Manspirations: Strength

This is the second post of a seven part series on manhood. The series is called Manspirations and the intent is to aim the spotlight of Scripture on the life of a man to determine how a man should live once redeemed by the blood of Christ. 


               Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV)


It is Biblical to man up. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul instructs the brothers to up their man game. He uses the word andrizomai, a Greek word that means to be brave and to act like a man. Bravery and manliness are tied together.

Our culture perverts this notion. The husband on a sitcom is a dunce, a confused moron who nearly burns down the house when he tries to fix the dishwasher. Or else he’s a hulking idiot with physical strength and a vacant skull. Rare is the man in the media who is a manly man in the right ways. This is a problem, because this is the essence of manhood – strength and bravery – and it’s scarce.

As king David lay dying, he instructs Solomon to “be strong and show yourself a man” (1 Kings 2:2). He could have said a lot of other things, but David understood the importance of Solomon’s manhood. This is one of the greatest man to ever live (David), and with his dying breath he tells his beloved son to be a man.

It’s that important.


Stand Firm in the Faith

A man with faith in Christ has his heart set upon an eternal foundation. His salvation secure, he can then be a man. If a man has no spiritual foundation, he cannot be a man. He will grope around looking for meaning and his true essence is lost in his desperation.

Further, a man with an abiding faith in Jesus understands what manhood looks like. If he has encountered Jesus and learned of His ways, a faithful man knows the paths to walk because he can look at the example of Jesus. He may stagger and trip, but he sets his course in the footsteps of Christ. His hope and identity are secure in Jesus, and thus he can live out his manhood in the unique way God made him.

To stand firm in the faith is to fight for deeper belief in Jesus. To stir the affections for God. As I write this I am smoking a brisket. The smoker has an inlet and an outlet: oxygen enters, the fire breathes, and then exhales through the smokestack. You can manipulate the inlet and outlet to alter the heat of the fire. A man standing firm in the faith will open his inlet and outlet as wide as they’ll go. The inlet is Scripture, prayer, and community. The man takes in as much of Christ as he possibly can. Then he ruminates on those truths and lets them out into the world, a fragrant offering to God and those around him. Like a smoker.


Act Like Men

Act like a man. Show yourself a man. Well what does mean exactly? I don’t think it’s very complicated. We all know what a man should act like. Let’s not overcomplicate a very simple command.

First of all, a man acting like a man is not acting like a woman. Now we don’t define our behavior by looking at what women do and not doing that. In fact, there are a lot of things that women do that men would be wise to emulate. But just as a woman is uniquely – and beautifully – a woman, so too a man is uniquely a man. He should act like one.

Second, acting like a man is not flamboyant in his manhood. Acting like a man doesn’t mean being a cartoon man. It doesn’t mean acquiring accoutrements of manly things that make people think you’re manly just for that reason. That’s dress up.  

Acting like a man is a proactive thing. Acting takes action. To act like a man is to be inclined towards action: leadership, service, sacrifice. And bravery. A man acts when fear stands in his way like the boogeyman it is. He is a man of action.


Be Strong

I’ve lifted weights with genetic freaks. I’m not one. These guys were made to lift heavy things explosively. Some are predisposed to physical strength. I’ve also met mental giants, men whose brains probably look like a lightning storm inside with synapses firing and chemicals whirring. Brilliant men, thinkers.

Strength is not purely physical, though we cannot forget this crucial component. A man should be physically strong and if he is not, I believe he should work towards greater physical strength. The net strength of a man is not the important thing, it is that he is strong enough to be capable to do the things God calls men to do. Work. Protect. Cultivate. Serve. These things take physical ability. (Now for the man born small or diseased or what have you, he is no less of a man than the beastly man. In many ways, when a naturally weak man shows himself a man he is even manlier than those to whom it comes easy. David was small and he was a man after God’s heart.)

A godly man trains his brain and his heart. He is a learner and a worshiper of the right things. He cultivates strength in prayer, in reading Scripture, and in teaching others. He may be an introvert or he may be an extrovert, but to lead a man must teach. To raise kids a man must teach. To sharpen other men he must teach. Each will have a unique way of teaching and influencing, but a man who does not instruct and encourage others in Christ is a man incomplete.

Strength is rightly placed when laid down for others. When exhibited in service out of love.

Stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong.


Photo: David Snodgrass via Flickr

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