The Issue at Hand, March 2020
If you are a young man, you probably fit into one of three categories of men.
Man #1: You are a big, bad, brazen, beer-drinking individual.
You are the cool kid at school. Weaker boys fear you. You have no problem with cutting them down with your words, or with your brute, physical strength. Most people consider you a bully, but they just need to get over it. If you had a friend in the bible, his name would be Lamech. You are violent, and any man or woman who tries to impede you will be trampled. You drink beer—lots of beer—even though you are not 21 years old. You do it because you think it’s cool. You do it because it’s fun. And you try to get others to join your riotous, partying lifestyle.
You don’t do homework because you think it’s stupid. Only losers try hard in school; the same ones you bully every day. You despise those who try to direct your life, whether they are your parents, your pastor, or your teachers at school. You sit in school, slouched down in your chair, with an “I don’t care” look on your face. It’s not cool to care, so you don’t. It’s not worth caring anyway. It will only be a matter of time before you fly the coop. You are probably going to leave—your friends, your parents, your church. When you go anywhere, you need your phone. You are constantly checking your social media feeds and making sure your online image is just so. At social gatherings, you have no problem ignoring others as you stare into your screen. People might say things to you, but you don’t care; you’re not listening; you just nod your head.
When you are playing sports, your team must win because you are the best. If your team is struggling, you cuss and swear. You might even use the f-word. Maybe you use the f-word a lot. Maybe you even find a way to slip it into most sentences. Either way, you think it makes you more masculine to use that word. It makes you feel powerful. So you use it shamelessly.
Man #2: You are gentle, kind, genuine, forbearing, and forgiving.
You are friendly to everyone you encounter, even those who are not friendly to you. When others harm you whether on accident or on purpose, you are quick to forgive. Those you encounter feel comfortable around you because they trust you. You look for ways to build others up. You protect the weak, help those in need, and encourage the despairing. When Man #1 targets his prey at school, you protect the victim without escalating the situation. You are cool-headed and know how to deal calmly with conflict.
You are keenly aware of your daily struggle against sin. You fight against sin, but you watch yourself fall. A lot. You view yourself as Paul did: the chief of sinners. You are honest and open about who you are: a dirty sinner saved by grace. As the publican, you beat your breast and cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
Man #3: You are somewhere in between Man #1 and Man #2.
You aren’t the obnoxious type like Man #1, but you don’t see yourself at the level of Man #2. You think of yourself as neutral. You aren’t known as a bad guy, but you aren’t necessarily spoken highly of either. You fly under the radar most of the time, and that’s fine by you.
Maybe you aren’t actually in neutral. You are transitioning from Man #2 into Man #1. You are curious and open to trying new things. You accept Man #1’s offer to drink this and smoke that, and you kind of like it. You feel yourself being pulled in that direction, into the chasm.
Perhaps you are transitioning the other way. You are leaving the lifestyle of Man #1 in order to become Man #2. You look up to and respect Man #2, but you don’t think you could ever be him. You are beginning more and more to hate the lifestyle of Man #1. You are learning to pray more, read scripture more, listen more, care more. You are climbing uphill and understand that it is going to be a long, hard road, but you are really struggling. You need help. You know you can’t possibly do it yourself. So you use the only weapon you have and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (1 Cor. 10:5).
In the midst of the fight, you pick up this issue of Beacon Lights, and you read what it is like to be a true man of God. You are called to go about your work, whatever it is, seeing it as set before you by God for your good, so you are determined to work hard for his glory. You contemplate Phinehas of old, and learn to hate all forms of impurity, striving to kill them in your flesh every day. You prayerfully consider how the Lord might use you for the good of others. A husband? A father? A young peoples’ leader? A pastor? An elder or deacon?
Which man are you? Towards which man is your lifestyle leading you?
Originally published March 2020, Vol 79 No 3