Lots of confusion about what it means to be a man these days (and at least since the 1970s). A few years back a political campaign thought the "pajama boy" ad would really get men psyched up about discussing health insurance (this ad brought to you courtesy of estrogen!).
Hot chocolate or pajamas are fine but what Einstein thought THAT would inspire men? It was immediately ridiculed to death (a sign of some sanity out there).
And maybe in part, a reaction to the pajama man-child culture, "Duck Dynasty" beards have become all the rage. Add military service, and a sleeve of tattoos ... you look like you eat nails for breakfast!
I saw a guy with a fierce beard at the gym. For three weeks I thought he was completely jacked! Then realized he was actually skinny to moderate. But the aura of that beard just shown around him like some testosterone infused cloud.
But I've been around long enough to know that while looking manly is excellent, it is in no way indicative of "manliness," or "maturity" (see Anthony Scaramucci's recent gutter tirade). You really don't know if you're looking at a man or a scared self-centered child trapped inside man's body.
So what is a man?
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)
WHOA! Now that is a manly verse. And God used Paul to write it.
Paul was an epic man:
- First century Jew = epic beard.
- Rugged to the core. Beaten for preaching and left for dead outside of town. Got up and went back into town. Kept preaching. Who does that??
- Viper latches onto his arm. "Shakes it off" Taylor Swift style, right into the fire.
- No use for quitters. Canned John Mark for quitting.
- Didn't run from fights. Instead preached radical (and true) stuff that caused riots.
- No fear.
- NEVER had a cat. Look it up. 2 Hesitations 2:6
Paul had all outward trappings of virility. But what are some of the things he would say are "manly?" I'm gonna give you two that might not often come to mind.
A real man:
1. Embraces his insufficiency. Even boasts about it.
"But I'm bad to the bone! I'm tough as nails! I have muscles, and my muscles have muscles! I post fitness selfies of my muscles all ... day ... long."
Are you badder than prostate cancer? All the muscle tone in the world won't stop it from killing you.
"But I meant mentally tough, David. I'm mentally tough! GRRRRRRRR!"
Really. Will your "mental toughness" keep Alzheimer's at bay? No. In fact, it can steal every ounce of mental fortitude you possess, until you have no mind at all.
Undeniable truth of life:
there is no such thing as a bullet proof man (or woman).
You are NOT the biggest and baddest. God is.
After God told him His power works best in weakness, Paul of the awesome beard said quite famously:
I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
Paul was a survivor who cheated death over and over again. But his success came from knowing he was weak and ordinary, empowered by a God who was strong and extraordinary.
Any man that recognizes his insufficiency and relies on the limitless power of the all sufficient Master of the Universe ... is on his way to being a real man.
And a real man ...
2. Can afford to be gentle.
I rarely hear that "real men" are gentle. Because it is a dog-eat-dog world! If it's all on me, I cannot afford to be gentle. I've got to use all weapons at my disposal to get my way. I've just GOT to:
- Get all I can.
- Can all I get.
- Sit on the lid.
- Poison the rest.
And of course, the natural extension of that attitude is sometimes a man becomes a human-hand-grenade-with-the-pin-pulled-out-ready-to-go-off-at-the-drop-of-a-hat. And NOT safe to be around. Never know when they'll just ... BOOM.
But Paul the riot-starting-viper-burner (Acts 28:5) says:
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Phil. 4:5
If God is near, has my back, really REALLY means things like Romans 8:28 He'll-work-all-things-together-for-my-good-and-really-cares-about-me ...
I can afford to be gentle.
I can afford to be gentle at work, with my family, with others. I can be safe for others to be around.
NOT passive. NOT defenseless. Willing to bring the heat when appropriate. But safe.
Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird – gentle, proactive, strong, epic.
Teddy Roosevelt said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
How much better to speak softly because you have a big God? You can afford to be gentle because you've got a God who is bigger than any stick.
So grow a massive beard if you want! Get ripped from head to toe! Shake off vipers! Do NOT under ANY circumstances take a picture in a flannel onesie whilst drinking hot chocolate! Good Grief!
And take these two truths on as your motto:
- I'm insufficient but filled with a limitless all-sufficient God.
- I can afford to be gentle because my limitless God ... is near.
That's the goal. Amen, amen.