I’ve done an audio recording (above) of the post so you can listen instead of reading it. It’s just a trial I thought I’d do as I’ve been making a lot of audio for my business lately. Let me know if it’s something you like or if you’d just rather read it. Cheers.
This post is about manning up. Us young guys need to get serious about becoming the men God expects us to be, and the men our future lives will require. If you’re a girl it doesn’t all apply to you, but us guys around you need all the encouragement you can give to help us reject the world’s plan (because really, the odds are stacked against us).
Imagine we live in a village, 700 years ago. You know the kind of place… quaint houses, thatched roofs, a stone bridge over the river, livestock in wooden pens, and a friendly market. A lovely peaceful place.
The problem is the barbarians. They attack the village to pillage and plunder. It’s always unpredictable and out of the blue. At first the attacks weren’t so bad, but over the last few years they’ve gotten less frequent, but more severe. And there are murmurs that a huge horde is planning to come and overrun the countryside.
To defend themselves the village raises their own militia. The king of the country has an army, but that is far away and would never arrive at this little village in time to defend it from a raid.
The young men in the village are required to train to fight. This has worked well in previous generations. The young men grew up able to fight for their families, and could spend most of their lives going about their peaceful business.
But this current generation is different. For the most part they don’t take training seriously. They don’t see the fight with the barbarians as a big deal. And as for the rumours of a large attack, they’re just too distant for them to worry about.
Most of the guys do the bare minimum of training that the leaders require. While they are there, they sit in the back and goof off. They hardly listen, they skive off and they don’t practice.
As a result, they’re useless at fighting. When the barbarians come, these louts, and anyone depending on them, are going to be in serious trouble.
Of course our fight is a little different. We’re not threatened with physical violence. The violence against us is spiritual.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
– Ephesians 6:12
Like the young men in the village we have a threat against ourselves and our future families. There is a force who will come to pillage and plunder and even to annihilate. If we are not prepared to stand up and fight it, then both ourselves and those we are supposed to protect will be destroyed.
There Aren’t Many Men
I often think about how right Elrond (the old elf in Lord Of The Rings) was when he summed up his thoughts on the ability of men to defend Middle Earth with,
“Men are weak.”
It’s true. There are so few good men. There are so few who commit to fight.
And it’s true there is a war out there. The world hates God. It hates His institutions, the church and family. It hates marriage, it hates good parenting. Everywhere God’s plan is under attack from the devil.
As the old quote goes, evil flourishes as good men do nothing.
A Higher Calling
We have a high calling.
Primarily we are to glorify God and love Him with all of our being. Beyond that it’s our family we have to serve first (and by serving them we serve God). We’re likely to marry and have children (some are called to singleness 1 Cor 7, but obviously most of us aren’t). At that point loving and sanctifying our wife and raising our children to fear God become our most important responsibilities.
The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) was the most important commands to Israel. Jesus backed it up and also said it was the most important. Both immediately before and after it was the command to teach your children to fear God, and to teach these commands to your children.
Why so important? Because this has everything to do with God’s kingdom. This is when the majority of the next generation is won or lost. The battle for the future is right here.
In Ephesians 5:25-33 it tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. The standard of love is perfection. They are to love their wife as much as their own bodies. They have to sanctify their wife by washing her with the Word.
The point is, your future family is going to be your number one priority. And the biggest part of that priority is helping them be more like Christ.
The problem is it’s too late to learn how to fight when the barbarians get here. If you’re going to love and protect your family as well as is possible, then you’re going to train for it in your youth and early adult life. (I’m not saying that a guy who only wakes up later in life can’t do a good job. With God’s grace he can, but he’s always going to be at a big disadvantage, and that’s if he ever does wake up.)
In JC Ryle’s classic Thoughts For Young Men, he spends the first chapter talking about how young men have the worst reputation of any group in society. They are the most likely to be drunk, in criminal trouble, causing car accidents, reviling God and so on.
If your life is going to be God pleasing it’s going to be completely different than the lives of other young men. You’re going to be in God’s Word when they’re into something else. You’re going to be the guy who hasn’t seen that movie. You’ll be the one who looks away when a skimpy girl walks past. You’ll be the one who doesn’t put playing or watching sport as a life priority. Yeah, of course you can have fun and some pleasure time, but that pleasure will never come before the things that are important.
Let me put it simply… you’re not going to be cool.
It ends up, the cool people are losers.
Missing In Action
The average guy in the world is growing up to go to hell. Obviously our lives shouldn’t look like his.
Well what about the “average Christian guy?” (And by average Christian guy I’m talking about what statistics tell us about a normal church going guy who claims to be a Christian.)
The average Christian guy will have a youth and early adult life that is the beginning of a train wreck. He will waste most of his discretionary (free) time doing things that are worthless or harmful. His major life decisions (education, career, marriage) will be based around what will give him pleasure. He will do a number of immoral things that will mar his entire life; most likely sex before marriage and probably with someone who does not become his wife.
Most of his life will be damaged by pornography and lust. He is most likely to eventually find a girl he likes enough to marry and have a few kids. He will make a poor choice of who to marry, based mostly on looks and personality with no thought about godliness. His children will grow up with no real relationship with God and no Bible training at home. Instead he will send them to be trained by people with beliefs which are completely opposed to the Bible and hostile towards God. The children will be rebellious and uncontrollable and will be involved with drugs and immorality and end up with children outside of marriage. He will most likely be divorced at least once.
By the end of his life he will either have realised he was never a Christian and completely reject God. Or, he will still believe in God in his pitifully uncommitted way and be in a state of denial about his responsibility. Or, he will look back with bitter regret at the mess he’s made of his life and the lives of everyone he loves; his only consolation will be that God’s grace is able to cover his sins, but that doesn’t say anything about the children who were never raised for God or the wife he never helped to sanctify.
That is what is normal. That is what your life can look like when you want to fit in with the crowd… mangled wreckage.
The saddest part is that those twisted, burnt out, and bent up carriages aren’t just your life, they’re also your wives and children’s.
Hell In A Hand Basket
I read the other day that a gaming addiction is the number one cause of 15% of divorces. 3 out of 20 guys destroy their family by playing computer games too much. It’s called being a loser. That’s prime evidence that what we do in our youth echoes through the rest of our lives.
Have you seen the statistics for children who grow up fatherless (usually because of divorce)? I won’t throw all the numbers at you, but basically they are…
The vast majority of those in poverty (in the Western world).
The vast majority of violent criminals.
The vast majority of those expelled from schools.
And so on.
And don’t forget the huge number of divorces (even for “Christians”).
Every time I see these kind of things I have a voice in my head tell me… (I know it’s not cool to talk to yourself, but we’ve already busted that one) Luke, don’t you dare add to that mess. Don’t you even think about getting married and having kids if you’re not going to raise them for the Lord. You never get to walk away from it all. Not raising your family in the Lord is for blaggards. This IS the battle. Nothing else will ever matter more.
I’ve had this quote on my wall for years…
“Some day, in years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long continued process.”
It starts now.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”
You. Have. To. Know. The. Bible.
That’s your training. You have to know what the Bible says.
And you need a firm commitment to do whatever the Bible tells you to do. It’s not head knowledge, it’s a battle plan.
It’s not a game when you get up and study the Bible every day, it’s life and death.
The fact that this is how you glorify God and love Him should be enough of a motivation to get into the Bible. But if that’s not enough, you have to get into it because you’re going to be a man. You’re going to be ready to fight. You’re not going to add to the wreckage. You’re going to be a good and faithful servant. You’re going to defend your wife and children even if it costs you all of your youth and young adulthood and everything else.
No matter how intentional you are, you will most likely end up with a wife and children.
The barbarians are coming. Will you have already put in the training so you are ready to defend that future family? Or will your lousy skills leave you unable to fight when those you love are dragged away, and ravaged, and slaughtered, while you watch powerlessly on?