Act Like Men, Be Strong
Brody Holloway | 1 Corinthians 16 | Be Strong
Act like men. The Bible gives us clear and direct commands to act like a man, but what does that mean in our day-to-day lives?
Are we supposed to be strong, or gentle? Should be we confident, or humble?
Brody Holloway explored this passage from the Apostle Paul In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 at one of our Be Strong men’s conferences, and we wanted to share the session with you.
BE STRONG 2024
I want to see the Lord equip you just in your pursuit of personal holiness, because one of the things that we really believe here comes from a quote from one of my favorite old dead guys, Scottish pastor named Robert M’Cheyne, I think he pastored a church of maybe 50 or 60 people in the 1700s.
As he was writing in his journal, he said,
“The greatest need that my people have from me is my personal holiness.”Robert M’Cheyne
That needs to be the conviction and the cry and the thrust of every man’s life.
The greatest need your wife has from you, the greatest need your kids have from you, the greatest need your community has from you, the greatest need your church has from you, the greatest need that your future wife, if you’re a single guy, has from you, the greatest need your grandkids have from you, your personal holiness. There’s no greater pursuit for you, and there’s a narrow line between pursuing holiness and fundamentalism or legalism or moralism, it’s a fine line.
Fundamentalism, legalism, moralism. Those fail to produce personal holiness. Okay, what they produce is self-righteousness and that’s sin, because that sets you up against God as a righteous judge and ruler. Okay, so moralism doesn’t work. Fundamentalism doesn’t work, and legalism doesn’t work.
Fundamentalism is an idea or a system of thinking that says, “if I follow a certain set of rules, then I will earn God’s favor and set myself apart from people who aren’t able to follow those rules.”
That’s heresy when compared with the Gospel. That goes in absolute contradiction to the Gospel.
Moralism is when I live under this self-guilt and self-imposed standard, where I think if I can morally do the things that I need to do, then I can feel good enough about myself and earn God’s favor enough that I don’t have to live in constant self-guilt, and then what you do is you end up producing constant self-guilt. And what the Gospel does is it freezes from all of that by breaking us, crushing our will and removing an individual from the throne of his own life, and then quickening his Spirit, imputing the righteousness of Christ, and then laying the holiness of Christ on us. So then I’m holy, because Christ has set me apart as holy, not because I’ve followed enough rules. ’cause if I’m holy because I’ve followed enough rules, then when I break those rules, I’m in a real jam, ’cause I just threw off my holiness, I just messed everything up.
But if Christ is the author of your faith, and if he’s the perfector and the finisher of your faith, then you can’t mess that up. You can’t mess that up.
You fall flat on your face. You’ve blood in your knees and blood in your elbows and blood in the palms of your hands. Some of you, some of you have spent your whole life falling down and getting up, living under the oppression of a dad who walked out or a step-dad who beat you over the head constantly, or expectations that you could never live up to. And so you fall and then you gotta figure out, how do I grab my boot straps, pick myself up, and keep going. And the holiness of Christ laid on you and the righteousness of Christ imputed to you, that’s your identity.
If you’re a child of God, that’s your identity.
So because Christ has done that, you pursue holiness, and it’s backwards to think I pursue holiness to earn that righteousness or to earn that holiness. One of the most freeing things for any man is to realize that he’s not in control of his own destiny, and that he doesn’t claim righteousness by his own actions but by the action and the work of Christ on the cross, and then we submit to that.
And so… And that’s a hard thing for a man to learn, because going all the way back to Genesis… It’s funny, I spent an hour probably on the phone with a young husband and dad today, two little boys I think their kids are one and two. I did their wedding a few years ago, and he’s been married like… They’ve been married like… I think they’ve been married three and a half years. He got a two-year-old and a one-year-old, he’s working two jobs and sometimes three. And he said… And so he’s spilling his whole thing to me, and he’s… As he’s talking it’s like he’s almost, almost just this despairing, “Can you imagine somebody lives with what I live with?” And he’s unloading on me when all of a sudden he gets done and I said, “Well… “
He was kind of taken off… Taken off guard, he was like, “I mean, I know everybody’s busy.” And I was like, “Man, you have just wined to me for the last 30 minutes about life is hard and I got to work two jobs and the baby’s crying at night and… “
Y’all know I’ma say it “Go to work and do what you’re supposed to do.” And understand this, that from Genesis 2, when God handed Adam the responsibility of working and keeping the garden, then he also gave him the tools that he needed to do that. God doesn’t call us to do anything that he doesn’t equip us to do. But what happens is. In Genesis 3, with and through the curse, now, it’s not just that he’s gotta work and keep the garden, it’s that the garden fights back. That’s the difference, the difference in Genesis 2 and Genesis 3. He was working. Listen, it is a misconception and a wrong teaching from Scripture to say that work is the result of the fall. God told Adam to work long before sin came into the world. The result of the fall is that work pushes back. Laziness is the result of the fall.
An unstable economy is the result of the fall. It’s not that you have to work because of sin, it’s that work fights back. So where’s the redemption in all of that for us? As men, where do we not find our identity in our work, where do we not find our identity in our ability to lead our family? Where and how do we find our identity in Christ? And that’s the thrust of the weekend, so if you would, turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 16.
I’ll say this right now, and then revisit it at the end tonight, we’ll give you a little bit more direction for what tomorrow morning is gonna look like. But in the morning, we will have at 9:00 o’clock, we’ll have the first round of breakout sessions, and there will be two sessions that you’ll be able to choose from. And then at 10:30 we’ll have the second round, you’ll have two to choose from, one we’ll meet in here, one we’ll meet in the other building and… Just wait, I’ll go over those later tonight, so you have an idea of what tomorrow morning looks like, okay. And I’ll say this too, one of the most fruitful and I think, rewarding aspects of a weekend like this, is just the fellowship of other Godly men. Guys that wanna be Godly daddies, who wanna be Godly husbands. Just realizing… Remember when Elijah was just crying and whining, kinda like my buddy was today, and he said, “I’m all alone,” and God said, “there’s thousands of you.” There are thousands of you, and I think sometimes it’s easy, especially in a secular workplace and where a lot of you guys live your lives day-to-day, it’s good to be in a place like this and to realize not just in my home church, but across the country, across the Southeast, there are men who are on the same mission with the same goal, and that’s to honor the Lord and pursue holiness and raise Godly families, and lead their church well and lead their society well.
And so I hope that a lot of encouragement comes from that for you guys this weekend too. 1 Corinthians Chapter 16, and we’ll read two verses. Verse 13 says this, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” And I’ll pray, “Lord, I pray that You would bless the exposition of Your Word, the explanation of it, and the application of it to our lives, and that you would give us Your favor in the next few minutes in Jesus name. Amen.” So coming into the idea of doing these conferences, we wanted to have something that we could… Hopefully, God’s gonna continue these conferences for years and years and years to come, what’s a text that we can launch from that will be a go-to text that will always be applicable? And this is it, this is it, because what this does is it calls us to action.
Men want to be called to action.
He’s called me on to a Kingdom task—a mission, a work, a labor.
And so there’s a responsibility that is placed on me for the Gospel, and one of the things that we talked about just a few minutes ago is that there’s this really fine line between legalism or rule-keeping, doing enough spiritual stuff or religious stuff, and then not doing those things, but still honoring the Lord. And the way that we find the balance in what am I supposed to do, what am I supposed to not do, is this. In Scripture, throughout the Word of God, any time you see Scripture being, taught, here’s what you’re going to find. God always leads in the action.
God always leads in the action, so Christ leads in the action of whether it’s showing us how to live holy lives, showing us how to live Godly lives. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, but He didn’t sin. So God is always first doing the action, and we call any time in Scripture that we see God doing the action. That is called an indicative. So little seminary talk, which is funny ’cause I haven’t been to seminary. But I like to say that it makes me feel legit.
But an indicative… When you’re studying theology, when you’re studying Scripture, when you’re studying exegesis, or hermeneutics, which is just the study of Scripture.
If you’re a father and a husband, then you gotta be a pastor and a theologian in your home, so if you’re a single guy that you’re to be training up now and learning that. But an indicative is any time we see God doing the action, okay. So to avoid legalism, to avoid moralism, what we do is, we act according to God’s direction and leadership, so we see a verse like Romans 8, 13 and 14, where we’re told to… In Romans 8, we’re told to put to death deeds of the flesh, but then we’re told that all of us who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. So we’re led by the Spirit of God, and that’s evidence that we’re a son of God.
So an indicative means God is doing the action.
Now, and it’s easy to remember. You just go, “It’s indicative of God to be at work.” Okay, so God’s at work. He’s always at work. For the sake of the Gospel and for His own glory.
And then the indicatives in Scripture should always lead the imperatives. So what’s an imperative? An imperative is when we’re called to action, so in Scripture, an imperative is when you’re doing the action. So the indicatives lead the imperatives. God is at work so that we might be at work. Christ was at work, so that we might be at work. So we’ve seen the greatest example of how a man is to live his life through the God-man, Christ Jesus.
So the indicatives lead the imperatives.
What we have in this passage is four imperatives. So there’s four calls to action in this passage, but I want you to understand that these four things are calls to action for us to come on the heels of 15 chapters of God setting up how we are to live our lives to the Corinthian church, okay.
1. Be Watchful
So I wanna make sure that as we go into these four ideas that we don’t go into these ideas with the mindset that, Well, we gotta again, pull ourselves up our bootstraps and do these four things, but that we do these things because of who Christ is, and because of what he’s done in us… Okay, so the first one is this Four indicatives… I’m sorry, four imperatives. Number one is in verse 13, be watchful, which means be alert, so we’re called to be watchful. We’re called to be alert. It’s your responsibility to be alert. It’s your responsibility to be watchful.
There are different things in Scripture that we’re told to be watchful for:
- We’re told to be watchful for the Lord’s return.
- We’re told to be watchful against the enemy.
Remember in 1 Peter 5:8, where he says, “Be watchful, be mindful, be alert” because your enemy is… He is after you, so be alert, don’t be dumb, don’t be not paying attention, don’t be alert to the attacks of the enemy, the wiles of the Devil, the tactics of the devil.
He’s coming at you. So be alert.
But then the other thing is, we’re called to be watchful or to be alert to corrosive influences. That’s what I think he’s talking about here, the corrosive influences. So he’s saying, Okay, so without getting into the whole first 15 chapters, of 1 Corinthians, be watchful be alert against corrosive influences, against the attacks of the enemy, and for the sake of the Lord’s return. So be watchful, be mindful, be alert, Christ is gonna return, and we’re gonna be in a kingdom reign with him. So what you do today, right now matters. The porn that you look at this week matters. The adulterous relationship that’s waiting around the corner for you matters.
In light of all three of these things, Christ is returning.
We will give an account for our lives, we will give an account for our actions, we will give an account for what we do with the Gospel, That’s not legalism, that is truth. Where God is doing the work and then calling us to holiness, be watchful the enemy lurks, and he would lure us into those things that would put us in the wrong position for the return of Christ.
So that… There are parables that Jesus talks about that talk about that explain this idea of not being ready when the watchmen returns or when the bridegroom returns, or when the king returns or when the landowner returns or whatever parable, you might be looking at, the reality is, we’re to be ready, and to be ready, we have to be watchful against the attacks of the enemy, and he is lurking, you all know this, we’re grown men. Some of you have lived a long life of failure after moral failure, after moral failure, and you think, How in the world… How do I get over the… Where do I start? Where do I start; my life is marked by failure. Well, start by being watchful, being alert. Get your head out of the proverbial spiritual sand. Know your Bible, love the author of it, and submit to him. Be watchful, be watchful. Be alert, be alert.
2. Stand Firm in the Faith
The second thing he tells us to do is stand firm in the faith. Stand firm in the faith. 1 Corinthians 15:1 says this, using the same terminology, “Now, I would remind you, brothers, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received in which you stand.”
How do you stand firm in the faith?
You and I must stand firm in the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:1, the Gospel is that which we stand in. Preach the Gospel to yourself daily. Daily, I preach the Gospel to myself every day, I told… Go back to my buddy today, I love the guy too, man, he’s awesome, and he loves the Lord and he’s gonna do the right thing. But we go back to that conversation I had today and about 15 minutes into it, I said, “Are you preaching the Gospel to yourself every day?” Because the overarching reality of your life is Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. At the end of the day, I can deal with anything. Knowing that there’s no condemnation resting on me, if you’re in Christ Jesus, you are not condemned.
It’s what Jesus looks at this lady sprawled in the street, beaten and dragged out in humiliation and says, “Where are those that condemn you? Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
So there is an indicative: Neither do I condemn you, Christ doing the action. Go and sin no more.
Then there’s an imperative: Christ always does the action of calling us to holiness, calling us to fatherhood, calling us to being husbands, calling us to being leaders and shepherds and pastors.
He always does the action of setting the example and then the commissioning us to those things. But then he also always calls us to action. He always calls us to action, and he says, “How do you do that? You stand firm in the Gospel, that’s how you’re called by the Gospel, stand firm in the Gospel, preach the Gospel to yourself daily.”
3. Act Like Men
Number three and four go together. Act like men—be strong.
It seems generic. What does that look like? ’cause in one culture, it means something that it might not mean in another culture, you know I heard one pastor say, I don’t remember where I heard this, read this, I heard it somewhere.
God said… “In some cultures, you stand in the presence of a king, and in other cultures you kneel in the presence of a king.” So, how do we measure out what courage is?
Act like men, be strong.
He makes it clear to us, it’s a call to courage. Here’s what it’s a call to, understand this, “no calling will ever require more courage than the call to follow Christ, no calling will ever require more courage than the call to follow Christ.” And for us as men, if for no other reason than for this, the world seeks to marginalize Christian men. They want to marginalize you. What do I mean by that; they wanna kinda make you irrelevant, make you a non-entity.
They want to marginalize you and trivialize your faith. The very thing that defines you, that defines me… If you’re a child of God, the thing that defines you is your faith.
It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And what we do is we get this marginalization where we say, “Well, what defines me is my faith.” Well, that’s what defines a Muslim and a Hindu, and right on down the line, all 6000 plus religions of the world. No, no, what defines me is the Gospel, and my faith in the Gospel is authored by Christ. So what defines me is Jesus Christ. He defines me, he defines me, and if that is true, then he says the world is gonna marginalize you, the world is gonna hate you because they hate me. John 15:18-21, that’s what he says. The world’s gonna hate you.
In John’s Gospel chapter 15, Jesus is talking to the disciples. And I think this is an important principle for us to understand, this is where courage has to come into play. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you, if you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own, but because you’re not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Why does the world hate us?
Well, number one, ’cause we’re not of the world. Number two, ’cause Christ chose us out of the world. There’s two strikes against us. Verse 20, “remember the word that I said to you, a servant is not greater than his master, if they persecuted me, they’ll also persecute you. If they kept my word, they’ll also keep yours.” Verse 21, “but all these things they will do to you on account of my name.” So Jesus predicts it, he says, the world’s gonna hate you, they’re gonna persecute you, they’re gonna marginalize you, they’re gonna trivialize your faith, they’re gonna push you to the side. And they’re gonna make you seem like a non-viable entity to the family, to the government, to the society, but I’m here to tell you right now, because the author of all life, the sustainer of the universe, has put in place and put in order a position for Godly men to hold and a society that curses our God still needs Godly men. Because when we stop standing with courage for the Gospel, society will implode. It is written on the wall, it will implode.
Just because they marginalize your faith, just because they trivialize your faith, and just because they reject your conviction does not change the reality that the world needs you to have courage and stand firm and be strong and act like men.
And the day that we only function in the capacity that someone recognizes that they need us, in other words, “I’m only gonna be needed if somebody articulates or asks or says that they need me,” that’s the day we slip into cowardice. We’re no longer courageous, but we’re cowardly. I’m not gonna be… If they don’t appreciate me. If they don’t appreciate you, then what? If your wife doesn’t appreciate what… I mean, what? Do you need to be cuddled? Did your Mama cuddle you? And so now you need that from your wife. Or maybe she didn’t cuddle you and so your wife needs to make that up. We are to stand firm, to have courage, to act like men, and to be strong, not based on how anybody else receives us or strokes our ego, or affirms us, or confirms us. We do it because we’re standing in the Gospel, and the Gospel is a stand-alone entity that holds everything together. And that’s where we get our identity from. And the moment that my identity comes from something else, I won’t have courage and I’ll shrink back. And the writer of Hebrews warns us against shrinking back. You can’t shrink back. The family needs us, the church needs us, society needs us.
You know what happens when godly men stop functioning in the capacity that God has called them to function in?
Society is then run by outlaws, renegades, gangsters, rogues. There’s a place for godly men to live as godly men and to have courage. And in verse 14, he appropriates it and says, “Do all of this in love.” Do all this in love. And I love that, he says we’re to do this in love, we’re to do it in love. And that’s the love of the Gospel. 1st John 4:8, God is love, God is love. Mercy, love, grace, justice, wrath, all these things flow from the nature and the character of God. And we’re to do these things in love. We’re not to do them with presumption. We’re not to do them out of simple obligation; although we are obligated to the Gospel.
We do them out of love.
I wanna give then some examples of guys that flesh this out, and hopefully in the second part here give some examples and then also some practical applications. One of the things that we have to be careful of when we’re handling the Scriptures… A lot of times, I think guys wanna draw practical applications out of a passage and they make the mistake of making the passage say something that it doesn’t really say.
So we gotta be careful that we don’t do that, but if you turn to 2 Samuel 23, I wanna take a look at some of David’s mighty men, and I don’t wanna say anything that’s not here, but I do wanna draw some inspiration from four of these men, okay, and then some practical application, alright. I know every man in here has read about David’s mighty men, and it’s like… I mean that’s… That is a man’s passage. And I read it to my son about once a week, probably we go through it. I’m like I mean “This guy and this guy, and he did this and this guy. And they’re killing people and chopping heads off, and it’s a testosterone driven passage.” But then when you realize the spiritual application, it’s like a humbling and convicting passage. So to set the backdrop, and what we’re doing is those four applications or those four imperatives from 1st Corinthians 16, how do we flesh those out? Okay, so what we’re doing, we wanna see these exampled for us.
The backdrop here is this is a group of men that were… David is on the run from Saul. Saul, is the King, David’s on the run from him, you guys probably know the story.
David ends up hiding out in a cave in a mountain stronghold. If you remember that, he’s in a mountain stronghold in the southern kingdom, and he’s kinda been pushed to the outskirts of society, and he’s a wanted man, he is the number one public enemy in Palestine. Saul is after him, the whole army is after him. He’s marked at one point, if you recall. David goes into a place called Nob, and he goes there and he needs food, and he needs a sword, and there’s not a sword in the town, they have Goliath sword on display, and they take that and give that to David. David comes there and for all the priests at Nob know, David is still in Saul’s service. And so David gets there and things are so bad that when the priests help David, then David leaves. One of the guys there goes and tells Saul, “Hey, the priests down at Nob helped David.” Saul sends a contingent of men, mercenaries, down there and they slaughter and kill all the priests at Nob. Unarmed priests, they killed them all.
So that’s the condition or the climate of things in David’s life at the time that he flees to the cave, so he ends up… He goes from there, he ends up trying to find a safe haven or sanctuary at Gath, which is where Goliath was from. They drove him out of there. He escapes barely with his life, and he ends up in a cave in a mountain stronghold.
While he’s in that cave, the Scripture says that people begin to come to him, first his family, but then misfits and malcontents and outcasts from society begin to go down to David. And what happens is, God takes this hodgepodge group of misfits and raises up an army that would far exceed anything that any army in the world has ever done. In fact, there are 30 to 40 of these guys that are called David’s mighty men who do unbelievable exploits in the course of being in service to David. These guys come from every possible background. And so one of the things I love about Scripture, if you’re here this weekend and your background is… You’re misfit, you got picked on or you were an idiot, and you smoked things that are illegal to smoke, and you’re like, “Oh man, what can God do with me?”
Well, God kinda specializes in misfits, and the Gospel is not the power of salvation, but it also transforms, and it renews, and it takes pretty much any situation and does great things.
God will do great things no matter what your situation is. And we see that with David’s mighty men, okay. So this is towards the end of David’s life, and now we’re recounting certain feats of bravery and courage that these men have displayed. So Verse 8 says this, “These are the names of the mighty men whom David had.” Now, none of these guys were from South Georgia or West North Carolina, so I’m gonna have a hard time with this. “These are the names of mighty men whom David had, Josheb-Basshebeth, the Tachmonite, he was chief of the three.” Listen to what he did, “He wielded his spear against 800 whom he killed at one time.” At one time.
Here’s the application. We’re talking about taking courage, one of the things that I see men, fathers, young men, single guys, constantly shrink back from is the fact that godly men are outnumbered grotesquely in the world, and especially in the American sub-culture of the church, of the church.
And see, it’s one thing to say, “Well, we’re outnumbered in the world.” If you said, For every Christian guy in America, there are three Muslims in the rest of the world, or five non-believers in the rest of the world, or 10 whatever, but when you realize, we’re outnumbered in the world. If you wanna be sanctified, submit to Christ, be conformed to Christ’s image, and his idea of Biblical manhood and masculinity.
If you wanna be the husband God wants you to be, if you wanna be the daddy God wants you to be, if you wanna be the single guy God wants you to be, if you wanna be the manager or the employee that God wants you to be, you are in an overwhelming minority.
But what’s so discouraging a lot of times, is that, that minority is not just in the American culture, but you’re in a minority in the American church, because the American church has been feminized over the last 150 years. We’ve done everything we could to emasculate the church. And so it’s like, seriously, it’s like you gotta show up to church and check your testosterone at the door. It’s like, We might as well have little buckets out there that you dump all that in.
It’s almost like you cannot… It seems to the world that it’s an oxymoron to be godly and definitively masculine. And so you’re… When we talk in terms of numbers, we’re in a slim minority to believe that the Gospel is what I’m standing firm in. I can love people with a love of Christ, lead my family with courage and stand firm when it comes to missions and the church in my community. So one of the things that is so simple that I think we need to understand and learn, that we learn in Verse 8, is that numbers don’t matter.
Numbers don’t matter.
Here’s what Paul says to Timothy. I love this passage in 1st Timothy. Give me a second. I just now thought of this, and it wasn’t in my notes, So give me a second to find it. Okay, 2 Timothy Chapter 2, Verse 11, “The saying is trustworthy for if we have died with Him, we’ll also live with Him, if we endure, we will also reign with Him, if we deny Him, He also will deny us, if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” Though every man speak a lie against the truth of the Gospel, and you’re the last man standing in this world who identifies with Christ, then you stand in the truth, because the majority does not determine right and wrong.
The majority does not determine truth and falsehood, Christ does, Christ does.
Second Samuel 23, verse 9, “And next to him, among the three mighty men, was Eleazar, the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. [laughter] He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew.” So set the stage, David is there, Eleazar is there, This man, again, I don’t wanna say something that ain’t here, but this is just a cool parallel. David’s there, Eleazar is there; they’re defying the Philistines. So probably we’re dealing with shrunken numbers on the Israelites side, and everybody shrinks back and Eleazar says, “Oh, heck no, I’ll die, I’ll die before I’ll shrink back.” And one of the reasons he does that is because David remains. Second principle, second lesson from David’s mighty men, follow noble men who will demand much from you. Follow noble men who will demand much from you, but who will produce in you the desire for greatness by their example. Follow noblemen who will demand much from you, but who will produce in you the desire for greatness by the example that they set. I’m not saying, again, can’t read into the text here. Maybe Eleazar would’ve stayed out there all by himself.
But it’s worth noting that David stays. The king stays.
Follow those kind of guys. Listen to those kinda guys. If you’re a young man, if you’re a young man, if you’re a young believer, find older men in the faith that you can learn from, who will teach you, who will mentor you, who will invest in you and learn from those guys. Learn from those guys. Super valuable learning from somebody who’s been there.
I once taught a break-out for pastors and student pastors, and the breakout was called Lead Well, and we talked about how Paul would demand much from the people that followed him. And we talked about how in Acts 15, remember the story, Paul and Barnabas have a serious discussion that turns into an argument over John Mark. And Paul says, John Mark is not going with us. He’s not, because back in Acts 13, they were on a missionary journey, and they were about to go through a very difficult mountain pass where there were outlaws, robbers, it’s a rough part of the country, the elements were brutal, and John Mark tucked his tail between his legs and ran home to mama.
And Paul said, “Oh, heck, no, he is not coming back out here with us until he proves himself, he’s not coming.” Barnabas gets mad about it. “This is my nephew, I’m speaking for him.” Paul says, “I don’t care who you’re speaking for, he’s not on my team, not until he goes and proves his manhood, proves his commitment.” So they split, they divided. So Barnabas takes John Mark. Now, we know that the Lord honors this, and we know that Paul’s not being narrow-minded or self-righteous, because eventually John Mark goes on to do great things for the Gospel. It’s tough love on Paul’s part. But it’s love that the Lord honors and rewards because John Mark ends up authoring one of the gospel accounts. In fact, in the last letter that Paul writes, 2 Timothy, Paul is about to die in a Philippian prison. He’s writing to Timothy and he says, “send to me my parchments.” “I need the Scripture, I need the Bible, I’m cold. It’s a dungeon. Send me a coat, I need something to keep me warm. I’m sick, I’m cold, I’m in this dungeon, send me these things. Oh, also, send me John Mark, ’cause he is profitable to me for ministry.” See, Paul demanded much from him at a time when that meant savoring him for a season, and I don’t know how this went down if he entrusted him to Barnabas or pursued him later, but you need to put yourself…
I need to put myself in and under and beside men who will demand much from me and not put up with my whining, moping, belly-aching, no matter how many times men act tough, act strong, act big and bad, and when inside they’re the biggest spiritual wussies. They don’t have the courage to do what 1 Corinthians 13 said in the first place.
We need to put ourselves in the shadows of men that will demand much from us, not in the shadows of men that will drag us away from the Gospel. The very next chapter, Acts 16, Paul shows up in Ephesus where he runs into Timothy again, and they say, “Timothy, he’s the man, he’s a young man with a lot of promise, Paul, you should take him on your team.” And Paul says, “Alright, I’ll take him on my team, problem is, I’m going to Jews, the other problem is Timothy’s Jew-Gentile mix, and he hasn’t been circumcised.” You ever read that? Acts 16. We read the Bible and don’t hear what it says sometimes, 18 years old. So Paul says to Timothy, and we would read that, here’s the thing. We would read that and we would go, “it’s not a big deal.”
“I mean, what, is he gonna walk around pulling his robe up? It’s not a big deal, you guys can… You can do this without doing that.” And Paul “says no, it matters, people know, they know and it matters, and if he’s gonna be with me, I’m going to demand much because every aspect of our ministry has got to be done above reproach.” So he demands much. I wanna follow guys that demand much. Because of that, it says, “After the men of Israel withdrew, verse 10, he rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword, and the Lord brought a great victory that day and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.” I don’t have time to… I gotta run quick.
Okay, so the point was gonna be this: his hand froze to the sword, he clung so tightly. Ephesians 6:17, “What is the sword of the Spirit? The Word of God.” How do you cling to the Word of God? How do you cling to the Word of God? The problem is we cling loosely to the Word of God, we know a few verses, we know a few ideas, we take some notes occasionally, maybe on a Sunday morning, I don’t know, what you… Whatever. But do you cling to the Word of God? That it is your life, it is your weapon, it is… Some of you guys were in the military, you know, one of the first things they teach you when you’re issued a rifle, is this is your wife, your mama, your baby, this is everything.
Now, imagine a hand-to-hand scenario where it’s a sword that you use. You lose that sword in combat, you drop it, or you have a loose grip, it’s done. It’s over for you. It’s not coincidental that Paul refers to the Word of God is the sword of the spirit. The Spirit of God lives in the believer.
What does the Spirit of God use to wield against the enemy? Scripture, Scripture.
How do you… Simple question. We’re going to visit this hard tomorrow and Saturday. How do you handle scripture? What do you do with the Word of God in your life? Hold fast to it. Conviction and direction come from it. Go a little quick. Verse 11, “Next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee, the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils and men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory.”
What do we learn from this guy? He fought over lentils. I don’t even know what a lentil is. I think it’s noodly, ricey, hippie food. I mean, it’d be one thing if he fought over a herd of Black Angus cows. It was like, “Heck, no, you’re not taking my meat.”
“I will kill everybody if you mess with my rib-eyes.” Lentils. What is a lentil? Somebody tell me; I don’t know really.
It’s a bean?
High in protein. As high as red meat?
Higher than red meat.
Higher… But it doesn’t taste like red meat. Alright.
My daughter… My seven-year-old daughter packed my lunch today in her Tinker Bell lunch box. I was like, “I ain’t gonna look.” Once I get there, I open it up; it’s a leftover half of her ribeye from last night. We kill a cow every year, we… Real meat. Alright. So half of the ribeye, it’s stuffed… Folder stuffed into a little Ziploc bag, like six almonds and an apple.
I was like, “That worked, she’s gonna be a good wife.”
“My man, he needs some red meat. Other than that, I don’t really care. What else? Here’s an apple, throw that in there.”
He’s fighting over lentils. Beans. Beans. Y’all, we could go crazy with the parallels here. For these people, this is survival. He’s fighting for survival. He understands that if he loses this field, they starve slowly.
Dads and husbands; a question for you:
Are you fighting for the spiritual survival of your family? Are you doing that?
Are you fighting for survival… Are you fighting like Shammah and Eleazer?
You’re holding fast to Scripture?
Are you drawing lines and standing your ground and saying, “We don’t go back any farther, this is as far back as we go, the enemy takes no more ground than this. He takes no more of my holiness, he takes no more of my sexuality and my purity and marriage, he takes no more of what these eyes see, he takes no more of what these hands touch, he takes no more of what this mouth tastes, he takes no more from my family. I draw the line and I stand my ground and I fight, and I fight, and I fight.” And you’re three years, five years, six years, 10 years into the fight, and you say, “When do I get to stop fighting?” Never.
When you hear the trumpet blow, then you can stop. You don’t stop fighting. He’s fighting over beans, y’all. This gives new meaning to, “That don’t mean a hill of beans to me.” “I will fight for a hill of beans.”
I will fight… Listen, we eat pintos at least once a week, my whole life. I never thought I’d fight over them beans. There’s new meaning. And once the line has been drawn, the last one… We draw the line—no further. We go no further. Down at verse 20, “And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels… ” Nobody knows what an ariel is. I think they’re Boone and Crockett White-tailed bucks.
“He struck down two ariels of Moab… ” Not really. I don’t know what they are, but I don’t think they’re that. “He also went… ” Now listen to this, “He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man, the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with the staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.” He killed him with his own spear. We got two last applications; number one. Go back to the last point. Shammah… You draw the line, the enemy takes no more ground. And then you say, “Okay, but we’re not going to huddle up and build little walls and hide behind ’em. We’re going to expand the safe territory of my marriage and my children, and we’re gonna build a new Eden. In order to do that, we draw the line, we fight the enemy, we drive ’em back. We drive ’em back, and when the enemy runs back into its hole, back into its pit, back into its little layer to rebuild, reboot to come at me again, I chase the enemy into the culture where it breeds, I chase the enemy into the world where it grows and I cut the enemy off.”
Benaiah said, “We could build walls around the village and everybody could… ” “Just everybody stay close to the house.” But you can’t live like that, y’all. Jesus prayed in John 17, “God don’t take them out of the world, keep them in the world, make ’em effective for the Gospel.” One of the greatest gifts you can give to your wife and your kids is to build a redemptive picture of Eden in their lives. What was Eden? It was a place where God said, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes, yes, yes.” To build a place of yeses and freedom. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there’s freedom. John 8, “If you’re my disciples, you’ll abide in my word, when you abide in my word, you’ll know the truth and the truth will make you free.” One of the reasons young people at the rate of 85% are walking away from the Gospel when they turn 18 or 19, it’s because there’s no freedom in the Gospel they’ve been handed. It’s legalistic oppression or it’s… Or it’s culturally unbalanced. Rather than a counter-culture that levies against the world, it’s a sub-culture.
And we’ve gotta build an Eden-like redemptive place to raise our families. Where they experience the freedom that Christ gives, to worship God, to be unashamed of it. To have a daddy worth emulating. To have a daddy worth trying to become one day, when they’re learning to be a husband or when they’re preparing to be pursued by a young man. To have had what they needed. To be an example through their granddad, through their dad, through their uncle, through their stepdad.
Those things matter. He goes into the pit. He didn’t bar the doors and huddle the family inside, that would have been safe and respectable. He wasn’t into safe and respectable. He set up larger parameters, larger borders, larger territory. As a daddy, as a man, as a husband, I should be building a large, safe Eden-like place, not just a cave.
A cave is needed. There needs to be a place to retreat. In our home, we retreat into my youngest daughter’s room every night, and we huddle around, you call it what you want to… Family devotions, family worship, whatever. And we study the Bible together, we read the Bible together, we worship together.
But then we have to impact the world with the Gospel.
And Benaiah understood, at least physically, what that looked like.
I’m not gonna wait for the lion to come. I’m not gonna wait for the Egyptians to attack; I’m gonna go. I’m gonna go, and I’m gonna be proactive, not reactive, not reactionary. I’m gonna fight. And I’m gonna set up borders that are big and broad, that give my… Those entrusted to me, the freedom to be who and what Christ has called them to be.
Mighty men like David. And the reason… Seriously, think about this, think about this. Every one of these guys. Every one of these guys learned from David. They learned from David. ‘Cause when they came to him they were misfits, outlaws, renegades. They learned from David.
So let’s lead like David.
Let’s follow like David.
Follow the Lord and then be the leaders that God would have us to be.
“God, I pray that You would give us the courage to stand strong, to act like men, and to do all that we do in love, not in short-temperedness, not in vanity, not in self-exaltation or self-righteousness. God, I pray that this week… That in these few days that we’re together, we’ll be able to sharpen one another, encourage one another, be godly men, go home, be men who have courage, but who have compassion. Who love people with the Gospel, but who refuse to compromise the Gospel. And I pray that we pursue you and respond to the imperatives that you’ve laid out for us in scripture. And I pray that we would grow exponentially in these three days. It will be a time of enrichment, encouragement, and fellowship. God, if there’s men that are here… I don’t know what different issues, struggles, difficulties that men may be here this week struggling with. What baggage they may be dragging in here, God, I just pray that you free ’em, I pray that we have an experience of freedom. And a fresh commitment to go expand the spiritual borders of our families, and our homes and our marriages. We love you. We worship you now in Christ name.”
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