Something’s been bothering me lately.
It is something I believe should be talked about more often, but isn’t.
I’m speaking of the temptations men face.
After all, Christian men are still men.
Look around and at your fingertips any number of resources available to Christian men on how to be “better” fathers, husbands, and leaders. However, very little is said, not openly anyway, about the internal struggles Christian men face as we to live up to those expectations.
Don’t get me wrong.
To endeavor to succeed in those roles is an admirable pursuit. In fact, it is to that end that I have often availed myself of such tools. Nevertheless, I fear the focus on some of the more practical aspects of Christian manhood, particularly in recent years, has been at the expense of men shepherding one another in the spiritual aspects of our life.
Areas which, unlike the aforementioned, are less visible to others.
“For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.” – 2 Corinthians 13:9 (NASB)
Could it be as Christian men that we are guilty of buying into the world’s notion that “real manhood” means shouldering our problems as if in a silo? Or, perhaps we fail to realize that the “one anothers” of the New Testament are equally applicable to us as brothers as they are our sisters?
Why should we ever think that because we are redeemed, that the spiritual challenges we face as men could be navigated apart from the love and support of our fellow brothers in Christ, many of whom are experiencing the very same trials as we (1 Peter 5:9)?
The truth is a spiritually regenerated man in whose heart resides the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22), does not cease being human simply because he has been converted (Galatians 5:17.) Though saved, he is not spotless. Though complete in Christ, he is not yet whole (Colossians 1:28; 1 John 3:2-3.)
In the daily and often moment-by-moment life of the Christian man, there are still spiritual battles to be fought.
“When a lust falls in with the natural constitutions and temper, with a suitable course of life, with occasions, or when Satan has got a fit handle to manage it, as he has a thousand ways so to do, that lust grows violent and impetuous above others, or more than the same lust in another man; then the steams of it darken the mind so, that though a man knows the same things as formerly, yet they have no power nor influence on the will, but corrupt affections and passions are set by it at liberty.” – John Owen, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers
My personal experience is that Christian men are much more comfortable discussing with each other their spiritual successes than failures.
I believe this to be due in large part to the pressures many Christian men feel to be, well, Christian. In other words, perfect. It is an ever-present weightiness that accompanies men in every sphere of life – whether at home, at work, or at church. But wherever and however these burdens originate, the message they carry is usually the same: to be a Christian man is to never fail or falter – at anything.
In fact, in many instances it is the encumbrance to not only be like Jesus but to be Jesus.
Needless to say, no human being could attain to such a level of integrity in this life. Sanctification, the process by which Spirit of God conforms His elect into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), is an act of God’s unmerited grace (Romans 6:22; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.) And yet, we too often fail to afford this same grace to one another as we travel this earthly road.
My brothers, this ought not to be (2 Timothy 1:7.)
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:19-22 (NASB)
Being men of God does not mean we must show no cracks in our spiritual armor (1 Corinthians 16:13-14.) We are not super-Christians walking around with a big ‘C’ on our chest. We are all susceptible to the temptations of sexual sin, lust, pride, envy, and worldly ambition (to give only a short list.)
We must seek one another out; learn to trust one another and be transparent with each other about the fleshly temptations we face. I have found it invaluable in my own spiritual walk to surround myself with godly men to whom I can bare my soul. I am not speaking in the “accountability partner” sense, as the last thing I want to do is suggest anything that seems, if you will, “programmatic.”
No, I am speaking in the simplest terms of all – two or three godly yet imperfect brothers with whom you can just sit down and unload what’s on your heart. Someone who will listen to you and pray with you and intercede for you; who understands the spiritual battles you face, the ones you would prefer to hold close to the vest, that are known only to you and the God who made you.
Consider the example set by Christ, who Himself was transparent with the men who were closest to Him. It was to Peter, James, and John that Jesus made one of His most intimate confessions, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me (Matthew 26:38.)”
That Christ chose a select group of disciples to come alongside Him at such a crucial moment in His life, should remind us that we are not meant to navigate this life alone.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are already doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NASB)
Christianity is a very practical faith.
Christ did not come to teach us only about heaven where sin and temptation will be no more, but how we are to live in the here and now where the ungodly attractions and enticements of this world are constant reality (John 16:33, 17:15; 1 John 2:14-17.)
“So we will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us; just one and an alternative, but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.” – A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
My brothers, let us not be strangers.
The road we travel is a difficult one. Sin makes it so.
We need not be in denial about this.
Instead, let us reach out to each other with all our faults and imperfections, encouraging one another in the never-ending fight against the sins that so easily entangle us (Hebrews 12:1.)
Humbly in Christ,
Confessing Our Sins Together – Desiring God
Men, Remember These Awesomely Ordinary Things – Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
The Masculine Mandate by Nathan W. Bingham – (free eBook) Ligonier Ministries