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When Being a Man Is Not Enough

“Wipe up those tears.” “You can do it.”  “Don’t be a wimp.” “You’re afraid of your own shadow.”  “Stop being a baby.”  “Real men don’t cry.”  “If at first you don’t succeed, another try is what you need.”  “No pain, no gain.”  “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”  “The one who wants it hard enough is the one who is going to win.”

Expressions similar to the ones above have been used repeatedly for generations to challenge, to encourage, and even sometimes to motivate through shame.  The intended goal is to push a person, particularly a man, to achieve things that he does not want to do and perhaps thinks that he cannot do.  Indeed, there are times when a person accomplishes what seems to be the impossible. But what happens if a person gives his very best and his best is not enough?  After all, God wants a person to give Him his best.  Did God fail him if the objective is not achieved?

A sad story is recorded in 1 Samuel 4 about a time when the Israelites were being judged by God because they had turned from Him. Four thousand soldiers were killed by the Philistines.  The elders of Israel called for the ark of the covenant of God to be brought into the camp, apparently considering it to be a good luck charm and thinking that its presence would inspire the soldiers to victory.  The emotional fervor of the Israelite army broke into loud cheers and caused the Philistines to be afraid.  The enemy leaders, trying to pump up their troops, said, “Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.”  The word quit means to “show oneself a man, be brave.”  A fierce battle ensued.  The outcome?  Disaster for the people of God.  The Israelites trusted in the object instead of the person the object represented.

The same admonition to be a man occurred in 1 Corinthians 16:13 where the Apostle Paul wrote, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”  Christians are commanded to be active and do four things in this verse: (1) watch (The term means to “actively give strict attention to”, or “arise from the sleep of death”, and is closely associated with the term for resurrection.), (2) persevere by standing solidly on the finished work of Christ and in his power, (3) show oneself to be a brave individual unafraid of the impending battle, and (4) increase in strength, or do not let up.

The difference between 1 Samuel 4 and 1 Corinthians 16:13 is interesting.  Anyone can whip themselves into a frenzy and do extraordinary things, but Jesus made it clear in John 15:5 that, “Without me ye can do nothing.”  God has given us responsibilities to carry out along with the energy to complete them.  The unbeliever can accomplish some amazing things, but he cannot draw from the energy of the Holy Spirit like a believer can.  Though the unrighteous try to intimidate the righteous in a variety of ways such as abundant financial resources, political influence, academic credentials, social pressures, and media power; Christians can experience the supernatural deliverance from God as we follow him.

Dads in particular need to rise to the calling of actively being the man of God in their home.  Do not sit idly by and do nothing, and do not try to accomplish the work of God in the energy of the flesh.  With the Holy Spirit in control, take the lead in your home and community and make a difference for Jesus’ sake.


Author: David M Watkins
Published in: The Paper MÂCHÉ, September 2012