I will quickly admit there is a softer side to life – the poetic, tender, caring, compassionate side. If I may speak to men for just a moment (though ladies this all applies to you as well*) – we are to be a poet (the softer side) and not just a warrior (the harder side). But BOTH are required and demanded. Yet in our culture today it is the softer side of life that is highlighted and honored, resulting in a pansy version of men and Christianity. Yes we are to be tender, caring, and compassionate when it is called for, but we are also to be strong, valiant, honorable, daring, and courageous as well.
As my friend Eric Ludy recently described it, men are to be men of steel (hard and strong) AND men of down (soft and tender). Our problem is we are usually hard when we need to be soft and soft when we need to be hard. Yet both are required for masculinity and both are essential for Christianity.
One of my new favorite words in Greek is andrizomai. It only appears once in Scripture but it is packed with substance. It has the idea of to show oneself a real man, to be brave, to do what a man ought to do, to show yourself courageous, to rise up. When the soldiers were storming the shores of Normandy with bullets flying everywhere, many were found crouched behind rocks crying out for mommy – not quite a picture of authentic manhood. But there were those who andrizomai’d, as the King James so eloquently states “quit themselves like men,” rushed the beach, and found themselves brave and courageous.
1 Corinthians 16.13 commands: “Be watchful [be on your guard], stand fast in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Some translations translate andrizomai: be brave, be courageous, quit you like men. In all cases, the call is to rise up and show oneself strong and valiant.
What if we as men began to act as … men? I’m all for being tender and compassionate when it is needed; but we must also be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6.10). Perhaps the call to act as men sounds negative and detrimental – since the standard of masculinity has fallen through the floor – but I don’t exhort individuals to andrizomai according to the standard of today’s male but according to the standard set forth in the Word. Men throughout Scripture were men full of the Spirit, living completely surrendered and dependent upon God, and whose lives demonstrated the most incredible feats because they proven strong and courageous.
We are called as men to be the first sufferers, to have our lives and strength poured out on behalf of the weak, the needy, the hurt, the orphan. We are not to be strong, brave, and courageous for ourselves but for everyone around us. It is an outward progression – we must be watchful and protective of our own souls, guarding against any enemy force that wishes to assail it (temptation, sin, the flesh, etc). When we have been proven with our souls, we are then proven with our marriages and families. It continues outward to include the people around us – yes, even those on the other side of the world whom have no advocate. We are to be strong, but not so the strength is wasted on us.
How is your soul? Are you ever watchful and guarded so the enemies doesn’t have an access point? Are you standing firm and unwavering in the faith? Are you andrizomai’d – brave, strong, acting like a real man – as Jesus uses your life to stand, protect, guard, serve, and “wasted” for others? We, as men, are called to be warrior-poets: strong when strength is needed and tender when compassion needs to be shown. As Paul put forth in his letter to the Corinthians: “Be watchful, stand fast in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16.13-14).
*Ladies, this also applies to you. In this Corinthians passage, Paul is addressing the Bride of Christ (the Church) who is to andrizomai.