Over the last three months I’ve had a growing realization that so many of my problems in life can be solved by telling myself to man up. And as my twentieth birthday approaches I find myself more and more thinking about what that means. What does it mean to be a man? What should ‘manning up’ look like? So I created a new field of study: Manology. That is, the study of being a man. What follows is my first venture into the field as I explore the singular importance of the very biblical command to man up.
Of course, the actual phrase ‘man up’ doesn’t appear in the Bible. But we do Joshua 1 where God gives the new leader Joshua what can only be described as a pep talk.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1 v 9
The phrase ‘be strong and courageous’ is repeated four times in the passage. I read this chapter on the 27th November last year and the phrase has been stuck in my head ever since. It’s basically God telling Joshua to man up!
But what does this mean? There are many applications:
Be strong and courageous…as you battle with sin
God told Joshua to be strong and courageous because he was about to go to war. This command is very much battle focused. And while today most guys aren’t going to fight in a battle we all are fighting in a spiritual battle. We fight against sin and temptation.
I know that personally I find myself discouraged by my sin, I grow weary of messing up, tired of not being all that God wants me to, afraid that sin will overwhelm me. And then I find God’s command ‘Be Strong and Courageous’
But here’s the rub: I know that I am not strong, I am not courageous, I can only ever fail at this command. Yet if I think this way I forget the second part of the command: that is the promise God gives:
“for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I am not strong or courageous so in fighting sin, in battling temptation I must look to God for my strength and courage because he is with me wherever I go. To truly man up and fight sin I must look to the strength of God.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him [Christ} who loved us.”
Romans 8 v 37
And as well I look to the man par excellent, the perfect man, the man who always manned up, the man who was more of a man than we can ever be and yet at the same time fully God. I look to Jesus Christ. As Paul writes in Romans I am more than a conqueror – why? Because Christ loves me. When I face the spiritual battle I must be strong and courageous and to do so I look to the Captain of my Heart, the General of my Salvation, the Admiral of my Life, my Lord Jesus Christ and I see his victory over sin and death and I remember those glorious words:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”
Romans 8 v 1
And my strength and courage come from him not from myself.
Be strong and courageous…in leadership
Whilst my first point is applicable to both sexes this one in particular is a guy one. As men we were created to be leaders in one form or another. And to be the leaders we should be then we need both strength and courage.
Consider the current crop of political leaders: have you ever seen a more weak and pathetic bunch of self effacing, kowtowing, back scratching cowards who bend over to ever public whim and haven’t a pair of balls to go between them? Is it any wonder they aren’t doing well?
As a Christian man I know that in my life I will need to be a leader. At the moment I lead a small group and Contact Point, in the future I will, God willing, be leading a family, hopefully leading in a church as well and God willing even hold a position of political leadership.
And two vital parts of leadership are strength and courage. The strength to shoulder the responsibility ever position of leadership entails and the courage to make a stand for what is right.
William Wilberforce was a godly man who had the conviction that slavery was wrong. With strength and courage he campaigned against it to get in banned. And as a Christian he found his strength and courage in God. In politics he could be strong and courage because God would be with him wherever he went.
We need to be the same. Whatever position of leadership we end up with we must have strength and courage because God is with us! He has put us in our position of leadership and we can turn to him for the strength and courage to fulfil our responsibilities and do his will. Once again Jesus Christ provides us with the perfect example of a man who had the strength and courage to challenge those who did wrong and go against established norms that were not in keeping with God’s law.
Consider as well the state of the modern church. Surely it is crying out for men of strength and courage to make a stand for what is true, right and biblical. Too often men in churches are cowards, seeking compromise and not standing for what they should believe. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. We need men to man up and stand up for the truth confident that God is with them wherever they go.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Psalm 18 v 2
Be strong and courageous…in your work for God
Sometimes I am such a wimp when it comes to the work of God. Not going to prayer breakfast because I was ‘too tired’, not freely confessing to going to church on Sunday because I’m scared of what others might think of me, not taking every opportunity to tell the good news of the gospel because again I fear man more than God.
It is so easy to be weak and cowardly when it comes to doing the work God has set out for us. What kind of example does that set to the watching world? If we men aren’t going to pick up our gain then we shouldn’t complain when Christianity is passed off as an emotional support. If we’re going to be weak and pathetic we deserve a reputation for being slightly effeminate.
More and more I realize that I need to follow God’s command to be strong and courageous because he is with me! God, Almighty, all powerful, all knowing, all sovereign, is with me. And I need to again and again look to him for the strength and courage to plant my banner for Christ before a watching world and defend it against all comers. Too often I fail, too often my banner is small and well concealed, my weakness so readily apparent and my courage fails me. Why? Because too often I forget that God is my strength and courage. Too often I fail to man up as I should.
“The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
Exodus 15 v 2
Jesus Christ again provides us with the perfect example of manning up and doing God’s will when he faced the dying on the cross.
“He [Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”…And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Luke 22 v 41 – 42, 44
We see here that Jesus had the strength and courage to go to his death because he knew that his Father was with him. I doubt that any of us have ever sweated blood in carrying out God’s will.
There is such more I can say on this issue (and will!). But I leave you with a brief summary of my post:
Man up! because God is with you. Man up! Look to Jesus for your example. Man up! And go to God for the strength and the courage to do so.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalm 27 v 1