This post was first written on the 19th February 2016 and was the second in the series on the theme of biblical manhood, the first being shared yesterday and was originally inspired by a Casting Crowns song titled “Courageous“. . As noted, the intention is to continue on with this theme because I feel there is much more that needs to be considered.
Courageous. This is a word which inspires me. A word which causes me to look into my challenges with boldness. To really step out in my faith and do things which I would not normally consider doing.
As a second post on this theme of “Biblical Manhood”, I want to center this post on ‘courage’. I believe that as men, and especially as young men in the church, there is a lot of room for us to “man up“. We wait patiently for God to act on our behalf. We don’t actively step out in faith because truth be told, we’re scared. We’re afraid that we don’t have what it takes, that we’re not man enough to do what needs to be done.
Conversations I’ve had with guy friends about mission, or even more generally stepping out in faith and sharing about God in evangelism is one of the reasons I have the idea for this post. One of my friends said that “I just don’t feel like I could do that”. The spiritual condition here isn’t lack of love for people, because I know he loves people. The spiritual condition here is one of discomfort and quite possibly, one of fear – the lie that “I just don’t think I have what it takes to do that”.
In my investigations into mission, I have seen a disparity between the numbers of single men and women on the mission field. There is this general sentiment and sometimes joke which says “Two thirds of active missionaries are married couples. The other third are single women. The rest are single men”. The real statistic is more like this: for every 10 missionaries sent, 2 of the 10 are single men. Why the difference? What is it that causes more women to enter the mission field then men?
Crossing the street to share with a neighbour is one thing, crossing the ocean to share the gospel in another nation is another, but as young single men, crossing the friendship barrier and taking a risk in asking someone out for coffee? Speaking from my own experience, this is a scary thing, even when it shouldn’t be. I would prefer to be serving 10 days in Nepal pulling down houses in 40 degree heat to doing that; in fact, Nepal would be easier. What is it that causes us to stop dead in our tracks? Why is it so hard to step up, step out and just do it?
There are more then enough complacent, lazy, bored men in the church. Men who quit when the going gets tough, who don’t read the scriptures, who fail to lead their families with strength and integrity in the ways of Christ.
Where are the men of God like David, who, unafraid of the consequences of failing, stepped up to battle the giant Goliath? Where are those of us like Gideon, who led an army of 300 men to victory against the Midianite and Amalekite army, said to be “as numerous as locusts” (Judges 7:12)? Where are the men like Samson, who killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:16)?
What we must recognise is that these men were not alone. The bible never does tell us if they are afraid or felt inadequate, but as a human, we can probably bet that they felt that way. We do know however that they had courage and their courage was because they knew God.
I love the story of David and Goliath. The bible tells us that Goliath issues a challenge to the men of Israel in 1 Samuel 17:
“He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him, the you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man that we may fight together.” When Saul and all of Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”
~ 1 Samuel 17:8-11
When Goliath issues his challenge to all the army of Israel, they ran scared. It says of the men of Israel, upon seeing Goliath that “they fled from him and were much afraid” (1 Samuel 17:24). These are men who are lacking in courage. Most men in the church? We like to think that we’re a lot like David. Not true; we’re not at all like David. Most men in the church are like the army of Israel. Running scared and standing on the sidelines waiting for others to fight for us.
David wasn’t afraid. He was a youth, a teenager. The youngest of his family, the shepherd boy who should never have amounted to much. But to quote his own words, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). Pretty bold words for a shepherd boy.
Saul hears David’s words and David recognises that the heart of men has failed them. For he says to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail him because of him. Your servant will go out and fight with this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:32). From bold words David moves to bold action.
So David goes out to the battlefield to meet Goliath, while the men of Israel stand quivering on the sidelines. Even Goliath has to laugh at the nerve of Israel to send out a youth to face him. 1 Samuel 17:42-44 says “And when the Philistine saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David “Come to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field”.
What is it about David that he doesn’t run scared, that he stands his ground, that he stands firm in his courage before this giant of a man? I believe its this:
“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and i will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand”. (1 Samuel 17: 45-47)
“I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel”.
This is the sentence which makes all the difference, the reason why David is unafraid, the reason why he stood there to face down the giant Goliath.
We all know how the rest of the story goes. David slays the giant with a stone, cuts off his head, the Philistines scatter and the people of Israel claim victory in the name of God. David goes on to become a great king and a man after God’s own heart, even in his own sin and failings. We can learn much from David.
David was victorious and courageous not because the giant was lacking but because He was walking in step with God. All of the men of Israel were scared, but not this little, ruddy youth. He knew exactly who it was who fought with him. He trusted the God of Israel and his trust moved him to step out in bold action for the sake of his people.
Christian men, we need to be more courageous. In fact, we as Christians have the capacity to be more then David, Gideon or Samson ever could have been or could have done. Why is this?
“And I will give you a new heart, a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
God has given us a new heart. We have a new spirit. We have the Spirit Himself living within us, working to grow the fruit of holiness and Christlikeness in us. Unlike the men of old who had the Spirit work with them and in them at particular times, we have the Spirit consistently in us and with us. How much more we will be able to do and be and become because of His work in our hearts.
Peter couldn’t have gotten up in front of a massive crowd and seen 3000 saved in a single day were it not for the Spirit. Those Christians in Libya executed by ISIS couldn’t have gone praising and praying to God until their very moment of death was it not for the Spirit. I could not have gotten through my time in Nepal, nor any missionary get through their time anywhere, were it not for the Spirit. I could not have gotten the courage for many things I have done this year and planning for the next were it not for the Spirit.
My hope is that God would make each and every one of us courageous. To step beyond our comfort zones, to step beyond where we are comfortable in our faith. To have the vulnerable conversations, to jump on a plane and move to Cambodia, or Brazil or Syria with the gospel if He calls, to cross the street and share Jesus with our friends and neighbours and family who don’t know God.
If you’re reading this, you have what it takes, man of God. If not in yourself, you have what it takes by the Holy Spirit in you. We have no reason to walk in fear and every reason to walk in courage and boldness. Let’s intentionally take a hold of the courageous individuals God intends for us to be and we’ll see this world, our families, friends, lives and people’s eternities changed for the better.
It’s time to man up.