There is an exhortation in 1 Corinthians 16:13 that’s so simple, it’s easy to overlook: “act like men”. I know there are hundreds of ways to misconstrue that exhortation. It’s entirely possible to read cultural assumptions into it that just aren’t there. I won’t say any more about that for now, though, than this — it would be wise to recognize the danger, and try to avoid it.
According to the ESV Study Bible, the command in 1 Corinthians is rooted in Old Testament passages that admonish men “to act with courage and strength in obedience to the Lord and with confidence in his power (see Deut. 31:6–7, 23; Josh. 1:6–7, 9; 10:25; 1 Chron. 28:20; Ps. 27:14).”
I suspect that most men, myself included, often find that harder to do than we’d like to admit. I have wanted to be a real man my whole life, but there are times, even now, when I feel like I’m just a little boy trying to learn how to become a man. I have, more than once, prayed the very prayer Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 3: “I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in… Give your servant therefore an understanding mind…” Solomon was a deeply flawed man, but God was pleased with this particular request (1 Kings 3:10) and with the humility that lay behind it.
Below are a just a few brief (and poorly developed) thoughts about what it might mean to “act like men”. Consider them a conversation starter. I chose these particular qualities because I think they’re generic enough to apply to all men and young men, whether married or single. For the record, I don’t have any of these down pat and know I have a lot of room improvement on some points.
- I think it means becoming good at both giving and receiving correction. When disagreement or conflict arises, most of us are naturally inclined either to shrink away from it, or to react too sharply to it. The Art of Manliness is not a Christian website, but it contains a lot of good (and sometimes funny) articles about masculinity. For instance, there’s a lot of good practical advice in this article on giving and taking criticism like a man. From a biblical standpoint, the book of Proverbs has a lot to say about giving and receiving correction.
- I think it means being an initiator — at home, in the church, and on the job. That’s how godly men are portrayed throughout Scripture. They take the initiative to lead, serve, resolve problems, reconcile differences, and provide for the needs of others, rather than passively waiting around for someone else to do so.
- I think it means being submissive to authority (Rom. 13:1; Heb. 13:17). This quality complements the previous one. Men should aim not only to lead well but also to follow well, to exercise authority and submit to authority, all simultaneously.
A lot more could be said, but I’m out of time. Feel free to agree with, disagree with, or elaborate on anything I’ve said.
What characteristics would you add to this list?