“…show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God…” – I. Kings 2:2
In a world where boyhood and adulthood are ill-defined and clear rites of passage have become close to non-existent, we see new words and ideas emerge to attempt to make sense of the quandary our male population finds itself in as it struggles for identity. Now the teen years and adult years have been blurred and extended. The term “adultscence” has emerged to define or describe this new generation of “men,” now in their late 20s and early 30s, that are paralyzed by indecision and a sad lack of understanding of what it means to be a man today. Identity confusion and exploration distract, sidetrack and stall men from good movement forward. Once again, we must return to the “old paths” to uncover or rediscover what it means for modern men to truly be men. How is this defined and who defines it for us?
Too many books have been written, pictures taken, court opinions rendered, television shows broadcasted and billboard space purchased to try and define this for us! Frankly, the answer is quite simple, and it has been right before us for thousands of years! The answer to true manhood is found in God’s word. We catch a glimpse of this when King David is looking to pass his kingship on to his son. Before he dies, he calls Solomon to his side and deliberately tells him, “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in His ways and keeping His statues, His commands, His rules, and His testimonies…that you may prosper in all that you do and where you turn.” (I Kings 2:2-3) Look at how David six times directs his son, Solomon, toward God as the answer to true manhood. We see this similar type of thinking in I Corinthians 16:13 where Paul says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
While there are other similar passages in Scripture to support this, it is clear that to MAN UP and act like a man or to show yourself to be a man means to be one who clearly is both grounded and growing in his faith as he intentionally follows after God! Psalms 37:23 reiterates this by declaring, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, WHEN he delights in His way.”
There is no enduring culture in which lazy men are celebrated, cowardly men are esteemed, insecure men are elevated, or non-principled men are leading for very long.
However, men that are firmly grounded and consistently growing in God’s word will radically change not just marriages, family units, and local communities but could change the entire trajectory of a nation. We know this from Psalms 33:12 where the Psalmist declares, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!” This happened in America over 200 years ago and it needs to happen once again. This is why it is necessary for men today to “man up" and step up by being immersed in God’s word and letting it be their constant guide if we ever expect to have God’s favor rest upon us once again!
Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. – Jeremiah 6:16. The latest, greatest, quickest, fastest, newest “thing” can quickly captivate our emotions, attract our attention, allure our senses, seduce our fascinations and entice our temptations. This is the age we now live in. There is no time to reflect, ponder, consider, muse, contemplate or meditate, as one might miss a moment or an opportunity to get ahead, or at least to maintain status quo with societal expectations and norms. So forward not back, progressive not reflective, new not old is the thinking of the day, because the antiquated or even primitive thinking, values and principles will hold one back from modern, innovative, dynamic, enlightened viewpoints for living.
But wait! The passage above says to stand, look and ask! In a “ready, fire, aim” world, this is disquieting to the soul for this takes patience and requires one to stop and question, examine, and deeply and thoroughly investigate the current realities. As you stand by the road watching life flash by, ask for one thing.
In a frenzied pace world where satisfaction is elusive and brief and momentary happiness is tied to cheap thrills, quick jolts and fixes of pleasure, we are told that it comes down to this ONE THING that is the “good way” that we are to pursue if we truly want to “find rest for our souls" or real life satisfaction. Isn’t it something, that the secret to life is hidden right in this passage like a buried treasure to be discovered! Interestingly enough, there is nothing that must be built, created, developed or manufactured. Instead, it is a return to the past! The Lord says this, “Ask for the ancient paths…to find rest for your souls!” How similar to the Savior’s invitation “Come unto me … and I will give you rest”(Matthew 11:28.) In Jeremiah 30:21 we see the Lord wanting to be gracious to a rebellious people that turns and returns to these ancient paths of following after him. He promises to be our Guide and Teacher as he says, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” Psalms 17:5 offers a promise to following these ancient paths, “My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.” Can you say that?!
You want to live the truly good life? You want to find lasting satisfaction and fulfillment? Well, what I can promise you is that the “American Dream” will turn into a personal nightmare if you have neglected the one thing most important in life. To follow these “ancient paths” found in God’s word will lead you to being a follower of Christ. You must be warned that the path is less worn and, though clearly visible, it is more rugged and perilous. Yet it is a path previously traversed by our Savior. It leads up a blood-splattered hill called Calvary to the cross where our sin-burdens are released so we might truly find “rest for our souls” and life everlasting. Yes, our very best days are yet before us!