Proverbs is a book written by older men (particularly a father) to younger men (particularly a son) for the purpose of rising up masculine men.
Today we’re gonna deal with the topic of Biblical masculinity. And I – I am very – I am very excited. The reason we have to do this, is because Proverbs is a book written from men to men, for the purpose of taking young men and maturing them into mature, masculine men. You’ll see this primarily in chapters 1-9, where it’s a dad continually saying, “Now, my son, listen to this. My son, here’s some instruction. Here’s some counsel. Here’s some insight.” There are things that pertain to women in Proverbs, but the thrust of the audience is very clearly male, even from a cursory reading of the book. I would encourage the young men to read Proverbs, read Ecclesiastes, read 1 Timothy, read 2 Timothy, read Titus. Those are books that are written primarily for the cultivation of young men and the development of them into mature, full-grown, masculine men.
The reason we need to deal with Biblical masculinity today is because if the purpose of Proverbs is to raise young boys into Godly men, then we have to define masculinity. And so, I’ll start with a cursory overview of your Bible. Your Bible is a book that is comprise of 66 books written by roughly 40 authors over a period of a few thousand years, in three languages. The author of every book of the Bible is a man. These men lived in and built patriarcical societies, where the father and husband was the head of the home, and that he loved his wife and children; and protected them; and cared for them. And that the family name was traced and passed-down through the male line. In addition, we are told in scripture that worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that they are our fathers in the faith. And the Bible talks a lot about our fathers in the faith.
God, throughout the scripture, is referred to as our “Father,” never as mother. And Jesus is referred to as the Son of God, never the daughter of God. He is our brother, and not our sister. A cursory reading of the Old Testament you will see that there is a lot in there about war; a lot in there about war. There are kings and prophets and priests. There are men who are working hard in agriculture. There are men who are in the fishing industry. There are men who are shepherds. There are also a lot of men who prepare and fight and go off to war to conquer God’s enemies and their enemies. You will see as well that there is a very high view of women in the Old Testament, contrary to anything you may have been told. That Biblical masculinity in the Old Testament is used for the purpose of loving and caring for the ladies. I’ll give you an example from the Old Testament.
There was a woman who was a – she was young, and she was raped by a man from a surrounding nation. So, the men of God declared war, because that man refused to repent, and that nation was harboring him. And so they went to war and they killed 25,000 men, because they raped a woman who was their spiritual sister. I would – I would encourage you to see that as a very high view of women; much higher than our own day. If a woman gets raped, nobody declares war, or nobody even cares. In that day, 25,000 men would die if you mistreated one of the ladies. Continue to read the Bible, you get to the place where Jesus comes as the Son of God. God comes and reveals himself as the perfect man. Jesus uses language about the church he’s going to build, that he will build the church, and he uses military and offensive terminology; that the gates of hell shall not prevail against him. Which basically means that the church is an offensive force on the move, and that hell is trying to defend itself against this furious wrath of the church, so it puts gates up.
But the church kicks the gates down and literally storms the gates of hell. You see throughout the imagery as well of Paul in the New Testament, where the church is referred to a military unit heading off for battle, and it has weapons of war to wage war against the enemy, in Ephesians 6. And also that the people of God are referred to as a sports team heading off for competition, disciplining themselves and preparing to run a race; and run in such a way as to get a prize; and run in such a way as to not disqualify themselves. This culminates all the way up in the book of Revelation, where in Revelation 19 Jesus comes as a great warrior. He is called faithful and true. He’s riding on a horse, and he pulls a sword from its scabbard, and he declares war on the nations. And he kills the enemies of God. And blood flows thick and hard through the book of Revelation. And that he is the great warrior coming to conquer all of God’s enemies, and bring peace to the earth.
And so, we see that God is a pacifist, but only at the end of the age. After God kills all of his enemies, then there’s peace. And that’s how God works. This cursory reading of the Bible would give you the impression that if you walked into a Christian church, you should see masculinity, and you should see men who are masculine. Not just male, biologically masculine, but actually masculine in their essence and in their conduct. And it’s not that way. It doesn’t matter which denomination, tradition, theology, part of this country, or any other culture or country that you walk into, you cannot find a place in general, other than maybe an exceptional local congregation, where there are more men than women. If you go into a mosque, you’ll see the complete opposite. Islam is largely male. Judaism, in its orthodox form, is largely male. Christianity is predominantly female.
You know why schools, Christian schools, Christian churches, Christian ministries are primarily female? Because the church is feminine, and masculine men don’t feel comfortable there. It’s true. The church has adopted, I would say, inordinately the bride metaphor from scripture. Women are very comfortable from that. Men don’t understand that. It’s very hard for a man to think of himself as a bride, wearing a white gown and walking down the aisle. If he’s very comfortable with that, he has significant issues. He has much to work through. And so, there are different metaphors in scripture that men and women will gravitate toward in regards to their relationship with God. For me, this is – this is a very important issue. I was raised in south Seattle, in the ghetto, behind the Déjà vu, next to the airport. Okay? If you’ve been there, you can repent and don’t go there anymore. But, for the rest of you, if you don’t know where it’s at, that’s fine. It’s – it’s an interesting neighborhood. Gang-banging, drive-by’s, drugs, prostitution, the green river killer was there, the whole thing. One of the local elementary schools would have to go out on Monday and take the used condoms and the syringes off the playground before the kids came. And so, I was the oldest of five kids. And I grew-up in a blue-collar, hard-working, union family. My dad’s name is Joe, and he hangs drywall. Okay?
We – we didn’t watch Will and Grace and think it was funny. We didn’t – we were – we were a very masculine home. Okay? And I had two sisters and two brothers. My brothers’ names are: Mike and Matt. So, it’s Mike, and Mark, and Matt, and Melanie, and Michelle. That’s our family. I don’t know how that happened, but apparently we got stuck right in the middle of the alphabet. And in my neighborhood, my dad hung drywall every day to provide for the family. If you’ve ever hung drywall, it’s work; it’s significant work. To the point where, a few years ago, my dad broke his back hanging drywall and had to give-up drywall, because he literally severed his back. And my dad, when I was little, I remember him telling me, “This is a rough neighborhood. You look out for your brothers. You look out for your sisters. If I’m gone, you take care of the family.” And you had to in my neighborhood.
There was kids who were thugs, who were mean. They carried guns. They shot-out one of the cars in front of our house in a drive-by. All kinds of stuff. You have knives and guns pulled on you all the time. So, if you’re gonna be a big brother in that neighborhood, you have got to be tough. And so, I kinda turned into a bit of a street brawler, and kinda the protector of my brothers and my sisters. And this is the way I think the world works. My dad’s a guy. My brothers are guys. I’m a guy. We love each other. Things are good. I come from a decent home. And one my biggest fears in high school was becoming a Christian, because I thought immediately I would have to become very feminine. ‘Cause all the guys I knew who were Christians were just very – very soft, very tender, very sort of weak guys. And I thought, “That’s just not gonna work.” So, I wouldn’t go to youth group. They tried to drag me to – I was in a Catholic church and our priest was gay, and I didn’t get this guy at all. He would wear silk shirts and silk pants, and he would wear low – basically, like, bathroom slippers all the time. And he would tan all year. So, he had a nice bronze glow.
And I didn’t relate to this guy at all, not in the least. I don’t – I don’t – silk? Just – I don’t get that. And so, he – he was this very, very feminine guy. And they tried to – I tried to go to church with my family and I didn’t get it. So, they tried to take me into this youth thing, and it just didn’t work. So, I just left. I said, “That’s it. I’m gone. There’s no men here.” ‘Cause it was all older ladies, women and children. You couldn’t find a guy anywhere near it, and that’s not unusual. When I came to Christ in college, reading the Bible, and realized the gospel, and I went looking for a church; and a few of the first churches I went to were just completely uncomfortable. It was like walking into Victoria’s Secret. The décor, at first, it’s like fuchsia and baby blue, and there’s pink, and it’s just like, “What in the world has happened here?” And then the songs are very emotive, and it’s like love songs to Jesus, like we’re on a prom together or something. And I didn’t get that at all, ‘cause that made me feel real odd. And then – and then the guy preaches, and he’s crying and all this stuff, and trying to appeal to my emotions. And I was just like, “This didn’t work.” So, I kept looking for a church. So, I found a church where the guy got up and he said, “This week I was out bow-hunting.” He used that as an illustration. So, I became a member of that church. True story. I didn’t have any theological convictions, but if a guy killed things then I – he could be my pastor.
And then we moved back to Seattle, my wife and I did, after we got married in college. And we were looking for a church. Couldn’t find a church. Finally ended-up at a good Bible-teaching church with a guy, Hutch, over at Antioch that, you know, he’s a line-backer and played football; and he carries a gun; and he has dogs; and he lives in the woods and he kills things. So, I was like, “This will work.” So, we went there. And I never consciously put this all together until fairly recently; that the average church has primarily older people, small children, and women. And you only find, generally, three kinds of men in the average Protestant, Christian church. Catholic, it’s actually the same. One is, guys who are being drug there against their will by their wives. They don’t wanna be there, but their wives just want them there so bad that they have to put a noose around him and drag his carcass to the church. And usually, the only reason she can get him to go is because she wants the children to go, and the children won’t go unless dad goes; especially the boys won’t go. ‘Cause if dad doesn’t go, then the boys won’t go ‘cause they don’t think it’s manly to go to church.
So, it’s men who are drug there against their will, just the whole time trying to figure out, you know, on their phone or in their ear-piece what the score of the game is. Just trying to figure out when he’s gonna be done, so they can get the heck out of there, ‘cause they view church as women’s and children’s activities. And if you walk into the church, it’s usually that way. The youth ministry: huge. The women’s ministry: huge. You can’t find a guy for 100 square miles. There is one kind of guy you will find there, though: very soft men; guys who feel very comfortable and very at home. These are like guys who feel comfortable being, you know, the cashiers at Victoria’s Secret. It doesn’t bother them. They feel very at home there. These guys go into a church and it’s a very feminine environment, and they’re very soft men. These are nice, compliant men. They’re loved in the church, because, “Oh, look at Jonny. He’s a good boy. He never does anything wrong. He’s at all the youth-group functions. He’s just so nice and compliant. And he doesn’t do anything bad. He stays out of trouble. He’s so nice.”
No, Jonny’s pathetic. Jonny’s not doing anything, that’s why Jonny’s not getting in trouble. ‘Cause Jonny just sits on his hands all day and does whatever he’s told. He’s very passive, and he is not going to be very masculine. So, he feels very at home. So, you’ll find men in church that are drug there against their will. Some of you are here today, and you’re saying, “Yes, that’s me. Hurry up. Get it over with. I wanna go home and watch the game.” Some of the men are very soft and very passive. And it works when they’re young, but they get a little older and they get really stuck. So then, because they can’t work hard, or they don’t really find their way, or they’re not real ambitious, or they’re not real aggressive, then all the people in the church tell them, “Well, you’re a nice person. You need to go to seminary and be a pastor.” Oh, great. That’s what we need is more of those guys.
So, the other kind of man that you get is men who are sexual predators. Some of you are that. They go to church and they say, “Hey, it’s mainly women. My odds are great here. This is going to work well. These are nice women who wanna be married, and so they wanna get to know men. And they’re very trusting. And if I say that I’m a Christian, then I can have a woman. Not a marriage. I’m just looking for, you know, women that I can take advantage of.” So, you’ll find ministries who, because they have attractive women on the stage, have a lot of men in the seats. But, it’s not that the men are there to worship the Lord. The men are there because the odds are better than the bar where there’s more men than women. So, they’re playing the odds game. And that’s what you find in the church.
The issue, though, is: Should it be that way? I can still remember when I was a brand new Christian they – come back to Seattle, which is a pathetic city that I love, and I was raised here, and I care about it, and I wanna see the city changed. But they said, “Well, we’re gonna take you to this big men’s meeting they’re having at the King Dome.” And I thought, “Well, great. A men’s meeting. You know, in a football stadium. This – this’ll work.” And I get there, and the first thing I see is all of the leaders are wearing pastel colors, and the guys are up on the stage singing love songs to Jesus. And next thing I know, a guy kind of preaches. And all of the sudden, I’ve got a bunch of guys I’ve never met crying and hugging me.” I was like, “What in the world is this?” This – you know, I’ve been to football games here and they don’t do this at halftime. The guys don’t all break and hug each other and cry with complete strangers.
If I wanna cry and be held, I’m gonna go home to my wife. You know, she’s beautiful, and this guy stinks, and this is just not working for me. And we have to get into this issue of masculinity, ‘cause of all cities in the country ours is one of the most confused; completely confused. No idea. What’s a man? What’s a man created for? What’s a man to do? 1 Corinthians 11 says, “A man is the glory of God.” Well, we don’t think of men that way. Either we want them nice and soft and compliant, or they’re thugs and they’re dangerous, and we need to defend ourselves against them. That’s the image of men.
And in this sermon, I wanna make out this point, too: I am not trying to alienate the women, though I’m sure I will inadvertently. My intention – we’ll get to women down here in a few weeks. We’re gonna deal with men for a few weeks, and then women for a few weeks out of Proverbs. I’m assuming, though, that this is pertinent to the women, because most of the women know a man, and the men are probably causing you much grief and pain, and this will help explain why and what men to avoid. The first thing we see is – we’re gonna start back in Genesis. And I’ll pull-out a few themes, and then we’ll work into Proverbs as to what a man is, and what he’s created for, and how the church has missed this altogether.
The first is that we are created, in Genesis 1:26-28, male and female. Okay? And this, to me, is just paramount. It means that there are women and men. Now, some people will want to set-up a gender-war out of this. The Bible doesn’t. The Bible says that the men and the women are equal for what reason? They’re made in the image and likeness of God. Okay? So, a woman is equal to a man because they’re both image-bearers. Do they need to be the same to be equal? No. Jesus and the Father are different, but they’re equal. Okay? You can have difference and still equality. What that means is, a man doesn’t need to be more feminine to be equal to women, and that women don’t need to be more masculine to be equal to men. They just are because God made them. Men have nothing to prove. Women have nothing to prove. They’re both image-bearers. First principle. But, this issue goes against culture, which tells us that we are a product of environmental conditioning. And we’re not. We’re a product of creation and gender. Men and women are different, not just because of their environment, but because of how they were made. Okay? If you have raised a son and a daughter, you’ll see that they’re just considerably different.
And it’s not like one is good and one is bad. That’s like saying, “Well, what’s better? My left hand or my right hand? Which one’s good? Which one’s bad?” Well, men and women, they’re equal. And they’re both purposeful. And God created them both. And it’s not good for the man to be alone, Genesis says. And so, any sort of issue that will – this is good, this is bad; that’s the wrong question. I, for example, have got a son and a daughter, and a son on the way. And my son and my daughter are completely different. Last night – it was pretty funny. I’m sitting there watching the Outlaw Josey Wales with my two-year-old son, and he’s very excited ‘cause Clint Eastwood is killing all the bad guys. And my daughter is very upset because she wants to watch a cooking show, and we’re hogging the television. She loves Emeril. She wants to watch cooking shows all day.
And all my son wants to watch is war movies. And he wants to see bad people die. He loves that. And I – I affirm that. That’s good. He’s – he’s a guy. And they’re created male and female. My son, the way he gives and receives affection, [Makes slapping sound] very physical. So, I’ll come home. He will run and jump on me, and try and beat me. And for him, that is affection. My daughter, at night, we lay in bed and I cuddle with her, and I brush her hair, and I pray over her, and I sing songs with her, and we watch cooking shows. That’s what I do with my daughter. My daughter, she likes to be physically affectionate. So does my son, but it looks really different. Okay? One of the worst things I do with my son, I’ve started reading him the Old Testament; about all the warriors who killed all the bad people. Now, he’s all fired up. And he’s only two, and I read him David and Goliath, and to him that’s his favorite story in the Bible, ‘cause he loves the thought of the little guy beating the heck out of the big guy. That – to him, that’s a good gospel. He’ll get converted.
And so, I read that to him, and then he attacks me trying to take me, even though I’ve got him by about 200 pounds. And all of the sudden he disappears, and he comes back in and I wonder what he’s doing. And he has his baseball bat. And my son just starts to way-lay into me with his bat. And I said, “Zack, what are you doing?” And he says, “I David; you Goliath.” I was like, “Ah. Alright.” And I couldn’t discipline him because he’s being Biblical. Okay? He’s just being Biblical. Male and female. My daughter never did that. I read her David and Goliath when she was a little girl. She never way-laid me and whacked me. Okay? Male and female. There are just differences. And it’s not good or bad, it’s just different. But, out of that are supposed to come a different kind of person; a gender specific conduct that comes out of that. And that’s where usually it all breaks loose and we get in arguments.
I’m gonna talk about three aspects of men. What I’m not talking about is three different kinds of men. I’m talking about three different layers of identity that a man has. There are two others: the man as a husband – we’ll deal with that next week; and the man as a father – and we’ll deal with that the week after next. This week I wanna lay some foundational stuff. The first is that a man is created to a cultivator. You see this in Genesis to where God creates the earth, and all of creation according to Genesis 2, is sort of un-tamed land. It’s just sort of wild land. But there’s one part of creation that is tamed. It’s cultivated. There are trees and shrubs, and whatever is there is cultivated. And it looks orderly. Okay?
And God puts the man in that garden, called Eden, and he tells that man to fill the earth and subdue it; which is basically, “Make the rest of the planet look like Eden.” Which is a lot of work. So, God tells him, “Be fruitful and increase in number. You’re gonna have to have a lot of kids. This is gonna take a long time to spread-out over the whole earth, and to cultivate this world into a garden that looks like the pattern: Eden.” That’s what the man was created for. You will find that men, because they’re made in the image and likeness of God, are cultivators. That means a couple different things. First, they love to create something. And second, once something is made, they like to cultivate it and nurture it so that it continues to progress. You’ll see this in simple ways. Some guys with their physical bodies, cultivation, continually working trying to increase performance; very competitive.
Some guys do this with their car. Even if the car is running fine, they have to take it apart. Okay? My brother is that way. My brother has got a ’66 Chevy II, and he’s got a garage that’s bigger than his house. And he continually – every time I see him, “How’s your car running?” “Well, I got it apart, again.” “What do you – still. You got it apart still. You’ve had it apart since Reagan was in office. Why do you – ?” He says, “Well, you know, I put it together, it doesn’t go fast enough, so I take it apart and then I make it go faster.” That’s what guys do. Guys have a boat, what do they do? They’re always working on the boat. They buy a house, what are they doing? They’re always working on the house. Home Depot is like going to Mecca. They’re so happy to be there. Guys work on things.
Some guys, if it’s not that, let’s say they’re a software programmer, they wanna take something and plus it, improve it, work-out the bugs, perfect it, continually progress it. You give a guy a computer, what does he do? First thing he tries to do is increase performance with the computer. Right? It’s not big enough. It’s not fast enough. The speakers aren’t big enough. We need to upgrade. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. That’s the chant of a man. You say, “Well, why is that?” Because they’re cultivators. They wanna build things. And once they’re built, they want them to improve and keep moving, keep going. You give a guy a business, he wants it to grow. If it doesn’t grow, he freaks out. And so, men are supposed to cultivate. In addition, they’re supposed to cultivate their wives; love, nurture, encourage, build, so that woman becomes like Psalm 1:28 says, “A fruitful vine.” They’re supposed to cultivate children and give them wisdom and discipline, and pour into those kids, and see those kids progress.
They’re supposed to pour into their business. They’re supposed to pour into their physical body. They’re supposed to pour into their home. Into whatever it is that God has given them, men love to cultivate. And if a man doesn’t have something to do, he gets bored and he gets in trouble. Men like things to do. Even if he’s just a musician, he wants to perfect his style, perfect his skill. He wants to increase his abilities. He wants his band to become tighter. He wants to sell more albums. He wants to play more. Whatever it is, okay? Men are cultivators. The problem is, if a man doesn’t love God, he cultivates the wrong things. He cultivates sin. He nourishes and nurtures rebellion and death. And what happened is, is that – it’s very curious in Genesis, ‘cause man’s created to be this cultivator. Can’t help himself.
You ever think around and wonder, “Gosh, how did we get lights, and central heating? And where did these chairs come from? And how did we get roads? And how did we get machines? And where did we get engines?” It’s ‘cause guys are cultivators. You know, over time, they continually improve things until what? Until they go to the moon, or do whatever they can possibly fathom. And this can be good for God’s glory. It can be bad, like the creation of the tower of Babel. Guys come together around an engineering project. It could be good, like Noah building the ark out in the middle of the, you know, the desert wasteland. And so, men are called to cultivate, but when God does when the man sins against God, God doesn’t just curse the man, he curses the ground under the man. Okay? What that means is, everything under the man’s dominion now starts to fight against him.
Scripture uses the language of producing thorns and thistles. He’s got a lot of work to do. I’ll tell you why God did this, I think. I think it’s God’s grace, because when the man is working his ground, or whatever – for Adam it was ground. For us, it’s whatever’s under our dominion; your business, your lawn, your house, your car, your family, your finances. Whatever it is you’re trying to cultivate, you will find that it always fights against you. A lot of guys say, “Well, pretty soon I’m gonna have all my bills paid, and my car will be running, and my house will be done. Whew. I’ll be done.” And it never comes together. Humpty Dumpty always comes off the proverbial wall. You never get it all together. You never have enough money. You never have enough hours. You never – you just can’t get on top of it. Why is that? Because God has cursed everything that’s under the man. Why did he do that? Because he loves the man.
Think about this. When the man is trying to subdue and harness everything under his dominion to do what he desires for it to do, and it all fights against him, doesn’t that teach him about God? Because the ground is doing to the man what the man does to the Lord. Do you understand how that works? All of the sudden, the man’s like, “Why is this so hard? Why is everything fighting me? Why is it in rebellion?” And God says, “Because you’ve sinned, and you’re doing the same thing to me.” And so then, the man starts to understand the gospel as he’s working. So, the more a man works and takes responsibility, and becomes a husband and a father, and buys a home, and runs a business, the more likely he is to make sense out of the gospel. Because he’ll feel what it’s like to have something rebel against you when you’re trying to bring order out of chaos.
And that will remind him that he is that way toward God; that he is thorns and thistles; and that God is trying to cultivate him. And it brings a man to a place of humility. I can’t do questions now. This is like a five hour sermon, so I have to hustle. I might do questions at the end, okay? What this means for the men: Everything you try and do is gonna be hard. Some men think, “Well, I’ll just find a woman who’s a – she’s not gonna be a lot of work; or kids that won’t be a lot of work; or a job that won’t be a lot of work; or a house that won’t be a lot of work; or buy a new car that won’t be a lot of work. They don’t make those! They don’t come that way. Everything on this planet is a fixer-upper. Okay? And men are gonna have to work hard to cultivate those things.
The second thing a man’s created for, is he’s created for war. He’s created for battle. We see this in Genesis where God creates the man, and he puts the man in charge. And as Satan comes, God’s enemy, to declare war on God, the man and the woman, the man is supposed to fight, but he doesn’t. He just sits there quietly and lets Satan attack his wife, and dishonor the name of God. Men are built for battle. Men are built for war. Men are built for competition, not cooperation. They’re built for victory, is what they’re built for. That’s why young boys love sports. That’s why older men love war. They like competition. And what men are built for is to defend truth and justice; to conquer evil and to promote righteousness; and to protect the helpless and the vulnerable and the weak. That’s what men are made for.
God has enemies, and men have enemies as well. And those enemies, we are told, are not just flesh and blood. It’s powers and principalities and spirits. So, men need to take the weapons of their war and they need to defend against lies and against death and against Satan and against hell. And they need to champion the cause of righteousness and truth and justice. You know, you watch an old western, there’s good guys and bad guys. Every – every story that’s told in western history is about good guys and bad guys, and we always like the good guys to win. It’s because we’re made in the image and likeness of God, and that’s the way it goes in Revelation. And the problem is, that if a man doesn’t know how to fight, if he’s wicked, he starts to fight for the wrong things, and he starts to kill the civilians and not those people who are enemies.
These men become very dangerous. But, God has enemies, and we have enemies, and men need to know who they’re to protect, and who they’re to defend; and what truth is; and what righteousness is; and what justice is. It’s interesting, ‘cause this is coming back in our day. All of the sudden, there’s a need for strong men to go to war, and to protect the innocent. You know, we have this consciousness coming back into our day.
The last thing that we see as well is that men are created, in Genesis, to be sages. They’re created to get wisdom and knowledge from God, and then to teach, and to impart that to others. You know, if a – if a boy has a good dad, his dad is gonna teach him a lot. If a girl has a good dad, he’s going to teach her a lot. Some of it will be with his words. Much of it will be with his living. Okay? You see this in Genesis, where God created the man and the woman, and he first instructs the man. He says, “Here’s the rules. Here’s what supposed to happen. Make sure you pass this on to your wife.”
Apparently, Adam is a very bad Bible teacher, because when it comes time to contend with Satan, his wife Eve, according to 1 Timothy 2 and 2 Corinthians 11, she gets deceived. Apparently, Adam didn’t teach very well. He wasn’t a good sage. He didn’t pass on the information that well. And in addition what you’ll see is that men are built to learn and receive knowledge. And part of that is the cultivating of the mind, and the cultivating of the soul; reading, learning, thinking. Not just in abstract concepts, but men live in practical life. Most men are practical theologians. They wanna know about how to make money and work and life and have friendship and defend and have honor and nobility and dignity. Those are all the themes of the Father to the Son in Proverbs. And so men need wisdom, and they need to understand that you – you men need to understand and receive the fact, you are teachers. You’re teaching. You can’t help it. You’re either teaching good or bad, but you’re teaching something; with your words or with your deeds.
And if you see – you’ll see this. You’ll see an eight-year-old boy looks up to an eleven-year-old boy, and the eleven-year-old boy is his teacher. That an 18 year old boy looks up to a 25 year old guy, and that’s his teacher. You’ll see this, that children, especially sons, parrot their fathers. And if they don’t get wisdom from their dad, what Proverbs 1 says is, they – they don’t get it from their mother. What they do is they go out and they get it from other guys. And so, they end-up hanging out with, you know, hoodlums and thugs, and getting in trouble. And boys share wisdom. But not good knowledge, it’s the knowledge and wisdom that is at the tree of knowledge in the garden. It’s the knowledge of good and evil. It’s sinful, wicked knowledge. Sages will either have truth or error, lies or righteousness. And they’re going to instruct it in word and deed. And all men do that.
And I’ve seen this with my two-year-old boy. My two-year-old boy, he is – he is a parrot. He says what I say. He does what I do. I mean, he even wants to wear what I wear. And I’m trying to use that to – to nourish that. It says in 1 John, he says, “I write to you young men because you’re strong.” Strength isn’t bad. The whole point is: Is there wisdom? Is it for cultivating? Is it for warring against the enemies? Then it’s all good. If not, it’s dangerous, ‘cause you’re gonna cultivate sin, you’re gonna teach error, and you’re gonna shoot the innocent; and then the strength is bad. I had it this week, it was really interesting with my son. I was home studying for my sermon on Thursday, and I was home with my wife and my two children. And my wife was going to run some errands, and I told her, I said, “Honey, just leave the kids.” I thought I’d just let her go get a break. You know? It takes an hour to go get a loaf of bread with two kids when you’re pregnant. So, I said, “Just leave the kids, and you go get a break, and I’ll keep an eye on the kids.” And it was interesting, ‘cause my son, Zack, who’s two-years-old, goes and puts his boots on and puts his coat on. And he comes to me and he says, “Daddy, I’m going bye-bye with mommy.” I said, “No, Zack. You need to stay here with Daddy.” He says, “No, Daddy. I have to go.” He was very – very firm about this, and I didn’t know what was going on. I said, “Well, why do you have to go?” He says, “I will protect her.”
Two-years-old. And I said, “How are you gonna protect her?” He says, “I’m a tough guy.” See, and that’s good. I’m glad. He’s learning. That’s good. His concept is: “I love mommy, and we need to keep an eye on her. She’s valuable.” And if at two he gets that, then at 16 he won’t curse her out and smack her around the house. Right? That if he gets a little wisdom now, and he understands that strength is to love and protect and promote honor and justice, and if in addition to that he – you know, this is cultivated in him, hopefully we’ll get somewhere when he’s a teenager, and I won’t be, you know, regretting the fact that he was born. So, men are supposed to be warriors. They’re supposed to be cultivators, and they’re supposed to be sages. Practically, for the men, what this means as far as the sage goes: You have to know your Bible. You have to.
Okay, and I would encourage you, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, those are books that are written for the benefit and the training of men. Read them. Read them. Read them. Read your Bible. Know your Bible. Love your Bible. Study your Bible. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God and he’ll give it to you.” Seek wisdom. Get wisdom. In Proverbs, wisdom is a lady. She’s like a beautiful, sweet, glorious, wife. She’s very helpful. Do all you can to court her and make her your friend. Proverbs then talks about these things, but it talks about them between a father and a son. That’s the way it should begin. It should begin with dads teaching boys. Some of the reasons why we have young men that are lost, and they’re weak, and they’re soft, and they’re confused; or they’re rebellious; or they’re defiant; or they’re dangerous, is because their dad didn’t do his job. Didn’t open the Bible. Didn’t impart wisdom. Didn’t discipline him. Didn’t help him along.
There are three ways, according to Proverbs, that a man sins against these things that he was created to be. One, he abuses them. Two, he abandons them. And three, he avoids them. We’re gonna talk about those. The first way that a man sins in these ways, is that they abuse their strength and their power. Rather than using it to do something good, they use it to do something bad. Rather than being helpful, they’re harmful. Okay, and the answer is not to take away strength from men. You can’t do that. The answer is to channel the strength is a positive, helpful direction for all. These men are like Adam. They abuse others. Adam did that. He sins, and who does Adam blame his sin on? God and his wife. That’s an abusive man.
God comes and says, “There’s sin. There’s a problem.” And Adam says, “Give it to her. Give it to her. If you’re angry, just pour it out on her.” That’s an abusive man. That’s a man who’s not strong for his wife, that’s a man who’s strong against her; and he’s dangerous. These are the men who become thugs. These are the men who think that being a man means beating your kid, or intimidating your wife, or you know, threatening, or ruling through violence or domination. You know, there’s a healthy fear of your father. There’s a healthy fear of God. It says in Proverbs to fear the Lord and to fear the king. But there’s an unhealthy fear where a guy’s just a mean, brutal intimidator. It’s the bully in the neighborhood. It’s the guy at work who nobody will even deal with, because you know you’re gonna get into a war if you even talk to this guy. And so everybody lets him just run because he’s dangerous.
Proverbs talks about these guys. He warns his son about them. I’ll read to you from Proverbs 1:8-19. He says, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland of grace to your head and a chain to a door on your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, ‘Come along with us. Let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood. Let’s way-lay some harmless soul. Let’s swallow them alive like the grave, and whole like those who go down to the pit. We will then get all sorts of valuable things, and fill our houses with plunder. Throw-in your lot with us, and we will share our common purse.’ My son, do not go along with them. Do not set foot on their paths. For their feet rush into sin. They are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds. These men lie in wait for their own blood. They way-lay only themselves. Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain, and it takes the lives of those who get it.”
He looks at his boy and he says, “Son, look. This is important.” First thing, right out of the box in Proverbs. “There are boys who run in packs, and they’re violent, and they’re dangerous. And you need to watch out for them and stay away.” It’s true, isn’t it? You and I in school, even in our neighborhood now – if you and I are at a movie or we’re out to dinner late at night and we’re walking to our car, we see six or eight guys that are around the age of 16 or 17, big enough to be trouble, dumb enough to be a lot of trouble. We’re hoping they just came from a Bible study. We’re hoping they don’t way-lay us and take our car. There’s an intimidation that young men who don’t have discipline and control and wisdom, they bring a fear into a culture. They do. Most violent crimes, young men. Most people in jail, young men. Most real problems, young men. The issue is not to make them softer. The issue is to take that strength and point it in a helpful direction.
And he says, “Watch out for these guys. They’re gonna tempt you to go with them.” And I’ll tell you what happens. When you have nothing but soft men, these kinds of men get a lot of followers, because men wanna be challenged; they wanna be disciplined; they wanna do something; they wanna fight; they wanna win. And if good men aren’t calling them to something, then bad men will entice them. And so he tells his son, “You don’t run with those guys. You run with God. You run with God’s people and God’s men. And you use your strength for building up, not tearing down.” It happened this week, didn’t it? Did you guys hear the story, a little bit north of here, what happened? A bunch of teenage boys are screwing around and one gets killed. I think he got shot. You see that story? What did they do with his body? They drug it into a bush next to the library. Did they call the police or tell anybody? What did they do? They told all their friends, and they would all go into the woods and check-out the dead boy’s body laying on the ground.
Just happened. And it happened for days, until so many people knew that finally somebody called the police. He’s saying, “Son, watch out. Certain guys are trouble. And whether they’re little or big, there are a lot of these guys. They abuse their power.” When a guys yells at his wife, he hits his wife, he threatens or intimidates his kids, that’s this guy. Proverbs 3:29, “Do not plot harm against your neighbor who lives trustfully near you.” These are guys, if you trust them, they will hurt you. You’re in dangerous company with these guys. Proverbs 11:16-17, “Ruthless men gain only wealth, but a kind man benefits himself, and a cruel man brings trouble on himself.” Proverbs 14:16-17, “A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hot-headed and reckless. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.” Proverbs 16:29, “I violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good.” These men always are looking or followers.
Proverbs 19:26, “He who robs his father and drives out his mother is a son who brings shame and disgrace.” Violent, angry men, you know who they – it says in Proverbs, you know whose heart they break? They break their mother’s heart. You ever watch those day-time talk shows where there’s just rebellious, hellion, demon kids? Every single time it’s a bunch of mothers sitting on the stage wishing that they knew what to do. Mamma gets her heart broken. These are the guys who push their dad around. Gives a picture, you know? Here’s a rebellious, wicked, evil man. He’s a man who smacks his dad, and robs his mom.
Proverbs 20:29, “The glory of young men is their strength, and gray hair is the splinter of the old.” That’s why young men and old men are supposed to be together; wisdom nurturing strength. Proverbs 24:1-2, “Do not envy the wicked man, and do not desire their company. For their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” Proverbs 24:21-22, “Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious. For those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring.” Proverbs 28:15, “Like a roaring lion, or a charging bear, is a wicked man ruling over helpless people.” These guys look for prey. They look for weak people to intimidate.
Proverbs 29:10, “Bloodthirsty men,” I apologize for the typo, “hate a man of integrity, and seek to kill the upright.” You look at the words he uses for his son, here. These guys harm people. They’re ruthless. They’re cruel. They’re hot-headed. They’re reckless. They’re quick-tempered. They’re foolish. They’re crafty. Violent. They rob. They’re strong. They’re violent. They make trouble. They’re rebellious. They’re wicked. They rule over people. They’re blood thirsty, and they kill. 1 Corinthians 11 says that man is supposed to be the glory of God. This is not the glory of God. This is strength gone awry. This is possibility gone destructive. So the first thing that men are tempted to do with their masculinity, according to Proverbs, is to use it in a negative, unhealthy, deadly way.
And so, the only way that you can get young men to go the right direction, or any man to go the right direction, is for stronger men to come in. What these men need is stronger men. These men only appreciate strength. It’d be like if in Afghanistan right now we sent over nice, soft, Protestant men to negotiate, or to use reason, or syllogisms, or to cry and say, “You’ve hurt people. Look what you’ve done.” It will not go well for those men. Those men will be mulch. Those men will be dead. Men who are violent, men who are tough, men who are angry, men who are seeking their own ends, the only thing that they respect is a firm hand. That’s why we have laws. That’s why we have jails. That’s why we have capital punishment.
Romans 13 says we have these things to give some intimidation against the wicked; to bring some order. You’ll see this as well, to where like Proverbs 1 says, “If a man does not listen to his father, he is not going to listen to women and to his mother. He will listen to other men, even if they’re young and foolish.” That’s why you see foolish young men running in packs like wild dogs. It’s gonna be imperative for the men in this church to be stronger than abusive men; strong for the purpose of taking young men and nurturing and harnessing them in a healthy direction. Men love hierarchy. Men love rank. Men love strength. And men respect that. And if they don’t get that, they set it up themselves, and it’s deadly.
The second way that a man sins against God: He may not be abusive, he may avoid his responsibilities altogether. See, an abusive man is seeking to get a victory. A passive man is just seeking to avoid conflict altogether, and just get along. These are the guys who are looking for the least path of resistance through life. They’re always looking for the short-cut, and the easy way. And in the church we commend them, because they don’t make trouble. But the goal of a man is not to not make trouble; it’s to do something good. So, if he’s not doing anything, he’s really not very righteous. In this way, he’s following the pattern of his father, Adam. While Satan comes and he begins a conversation attacking the character of God, and attacking his wife, what does Adam do? The answer is: nothing. He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t involve himself. He just sort of sits there on his hands with his lips quiet. That’s a man who avoids his responsibility.
The world is filled – if there’s anything I see right now with young men at Mars Hill, it is complete avoidance of their masculinity. They think that because they sing a few songs and they don’t do anything real bad, that they’re men. No. These are guys who – I’ll just give you some pictures. Should we do that? Should we just take the fig-leaf off and speak for a moment? These are guys who, 30 of them pack into a studio apartment and pay $25.00 each a month for rent, and have no plans of changing that, because then they only have to work five hours a week at their dead-end job, and spend the rest of their time doing whatever it is that they want to do. These are guys who don’t pick careers. They don’t pick jobs. They don’t go out and cultivate anything. They’re not building businesses. They’re not building their spirituality. They’re not building ministries. They’re not building relationships. They’re not building families. They’re really not doing anything. They’re just avoiding it altogether. Okay?
And they think that they’re righteous because they’re not doing anything bad. These guys drive me insane. You guys ever see that Saturday Night Live skit with Adam Sandler and Chris Farley? That one where Adam Sandler’s got the little business going? Remember that one? “Can I live at your house? Can I sleep in your bed? Can I walk your dog? Can I wash your grandma?” And then Chris Farley jumps in, “For the love of God, let the boy wash your grandma. Let the boy sleep in your bed.” Right? That’s this guy. He doesn’t wanna go get a house. He wants to stay at your house. He doesn’t wanna go get a job. He wants you to pay the bills. He doesn’t wanna go build something. He wants you to build it. And he just wants to live off the fruits of your labor.
Some guys are like that. They’re looking for a short cut, all the time, but there’s no short cut. There’s only the long, hard road. And God did that intentionally to build into the man toughness, resilience, patience, fortitude, strength, to keep chipping away until it breaks. And some guys go, “Well, I don’t know. That looks like a lot of work. I might, you know, break my nail. I don’t – I’m going to go home now and I’ll pray about it.” So, there’s where you get guys who are on their eight-year undergraduate plan. What are you studying? “Nothing. But, my parents said they’ll give me money as long as I go to school.” Well, great. I mean, that’s awesome. You’re now in your 40’s. You gonna declare a major? Like, you gotta get somewhere. You gotta step-up.
Here’s what Proverbs says that these guys do: They just avoid. Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act.” If you can do something to help the world, do it. If you can do something to help somebody, get involved. Cultivate. Nurture. Participate. Build. That’s what you were created for. It says in Proverbs 12:24, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” A lot of guys are just lazy. I mean, I cannot tell you the number of young men I’ve met who go finally get their first full-time job, and are dying because they’re working 40 hours a week. 40 hours a week? You’re – Biblically, you’re supposed to work six days a week. You get two days off. Some of you are pulling four/tens. You get three days off. The reason you have a Sabbath is because your whole life is supposed to be work, and you get a day to rest. We have it the opposite. We think our whole life is a Sabbath, and we don’t know why we gotta go to work.
These guys are just lazy. Lazy men, all over the place. These are guys who can’t keep a job. Why? They can’t get up. “I just – I keep forgetting to set my alarm.” Well, before you can, you know, have a dominion and be the head of anything, you have to set the alarm. You have to get up, and you have to get your own pants on, and you gotta go to work. That’s why some guys keep living with their mother. He’s 35, she comes down, “Sweetheart, get up. Go to work. Here’s your pants.” I tell you ladies, don’t marry that guy. You know what you’ll be doing.
Proverbs 14:23, “All hard work bring profit, but mere talk lead only to poverty.” These guys can talk great. “Yeah, I got all these plans, man. I’m gonna do this, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” You talk to these guys, and two years later, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Pretty soon it just sounds like the teacher from Peanuts. It’s just noise. It’s not words. Well, what are you doing to cultivate that? What are doing to – you know, war? What are you fighting? How’re you doing? Where are you going? “Well, I’m praying about it.” Well, that’s great. That’s great. Beautiful. Keep praying. The rest of us will get up and go to work. Proverbs 23:20-21, “Do not join in those who drink too much wine, or gorge themselves on meat. For drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Says here’s how some guys avoid their responsibilities. They just eat, and drink, and pass out. We call that college, right?
How many of you in college, right? You stay up late drinking, screwing around. Next thing you know, the next day you’re really tired, so you need a nap. A little nap, you know? A power nap. Men always call it a power nap. It’s a foolish attempt to have a masculine nap. I’m gonna have a power-nap now. Next thing you know, next day, “I’m really tired. I need a nap again. I need a longer nap.” Next thing you know, you know, I’ve been sleeping so much I just wore myself out. I need a nap to recover from my sleeping.” You know, the guy’s flunking classes. I had a guy down the hall from me my freshman year at college, he just slept all day and drank all night, and flunked out of school. But, his parents were paying for it, so he didn’t care.
He got a good six-month Animal House run at the gig. And it’s like, you know, some guys just eat, drink, they become lazy, and they sleep a lot. I mean, I know some – I talked to one guy recently. He says, “I’m looking for work. It’s just really hard to get something that fits my hours.” What hours? You know? “Well, I’m not a morning person.” Well, that’s why they pay you to get up. They you pay at work ‘cause it’s an inconvenience. They don’t pay you to eat meat and drink beer, because that’s not an inconvenience. The reason they pay you money is ‘cause it’s gonna inconvenience you. Now, we would all love to have the job where you’re eating meat and drinking beer and making six figures. If you find that, call the rest of us. There’s a lot of us that’ll apply for that job.
But they don’t make that job. Guys have to get up. They gotta go to work. You can’t stay up drinking and eating all night. You can’t – you gotta do something. [Microphone feedback] The mike can’t handle all this truth. Proverbs 24:30-34, “I went past the fields of the sluggard,” that’s a man – that’s devolution. That’s a guy who began as a man, and he’s working his way back to becoming a slug. He’s devolving. He’s going backwards. “I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyards of the man who lacks judgment. Thorns had come-up everywhere. The ground was covered with weeds, and the stone was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” A little sleep, a little slumber, a little power nap, a little day off, a little folding of the hands, “to rest, and poverty will come on you like a bandit, and scarcity like an armed man.” It doesn’t take much. Sleeping-in, being a little late to work. All of the sudden, next thing you know, he’s worthless; not good for anything.
I’ll say something to the ladies, too. Most ladies see these guys, and you know what they see? Potential. No. Just trust me, okay? These guys do not have potential. They have potential disaster. If a single guy can’t get his own place, buy his own car, put on his own pants, go to his own job, you wanna give him your kids? I wouldn’t let him babysit, let alone birth. Proverbs 29:3, “A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.” Here’s another way that guys avoid their responsibility: porno, topless bars, massage parlors, strip clubs, prostitutes. If they can’t afford that, then they just get women who, after two or three beers, do the same thing. They just sort of dink their whole life around. And these are guys with sort of very shallow souls, but filled-up little black books. Okay?
These guys are just – they’re avoiding all their responsibilities. What they want, they want food without working. They want drink without working. They want sex without marriage. They want a house without a mortgage. These guys look at means and ends, and they want the ends but they don’t want any of the toil that comes with the means. So, they try and find a short-cut. “Well, I’ll just steal his money. And I’ll drink his beer. And I’ll sleep on his couch. And I’ll sleep with that girl.” [Whistles] Good. Whoa, short-cuts. Praise the Lord. And Solomon’s looking at his son and saying, “This is just foolish folly. This is just dumb. This isn’t going anywhere. You weren’t created for this.” Here’s how they get there; something for us all to think about.
Proverbs 29:21, “If a man pampers his servant from youth, he will bring grief in the end.” These guys are pampered; totally pampered. Okay? And again, this is not a boasting on me. This is a – this is actually a tribute to my dad. I was eleven years old. I was going out for the little league all-star team, and I needed a new glove. My dad said, “Good. Go make some money.” I said, “Hey, dad, I’m eleven.” He said, “Well, you’re taller than the lawn-mower. I’m sure you’ll figure something out.” True. So, I get the lawn-mower, and I go and I mow lawns to get my glove. And I come back and my dad says, “You owe me gas money. You used my gas.” It’s the nicest thing my dad ever did. Up until that point, I didn’t know gas cost money. Now, I do. Now, I appreciate gas.
It comes to the point where I’m 15 and I wanna get a car. I said, “Dad, I need a car.” He says, “Good. Go get some money.” I said, “Okay, fine.” So, I falsified my birth certificate, I lie about my age, and I get a job at a 7-11 selling lotto tickets and liquor and cigarettes to people that are twice my age. I was not a Christian, so – I shouldn’t have done it anyways, but I wasn’t a Christian. And so, I’m 15, working at a 7-11 selling stuff. And I make a decent living, and I buy my first car, a 1956 Chevy that I should’ve never sold. That’s a whole other sermon. And – and so I’m 15, driving myself to work without a license, because I gotta go make money to pay for my car. Okay? And again, I was not a Christian. Okay? So, I’m not saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”
And I realize that, since I was young and I was strong, I could make more money. And so I started dinking around trying to figure out where to make more money. And I find out that guys in unions make a lot of money. And – at least compared to me working at the 7-11. And I got tired of getting robbed and held-up, too. ‘Cause if you run a 7-11 behind a Déjà vu, somebody’s gonna put a gun at your head. And after a couple of those, you realize, “For minimum wage, I’m not taking a cap. You know? I’m not gonna get shot for, like, a pack of cigarettes. I’m not gonna do that.” So, I lied about my age. I falsified my birth certificate again, and told them I was 18. Got a job working long-shoring down on the docks in Seattle. And I would go throw 100-pound sacks of peas, and unload trucks, and work hard. And they paid me tremendous money. At the time, it was like $10.00-something an hour. This was, like, in 1986 or ’87 or something. And I’d work 40 hours a week, and over-time was double-time. And none of the guys would wanna work over-time. Usually it was on Friday, ‘cause they had to get containers out, and those guys all wanted to go to the topless club.
And so, I would work all the over-time at $20.00 an hour as a 16 year old kid. This is in the mid-‘80s. Right? So, I’m loaded. I have money, money, money, money. So, I buy a car, and I start saving for college, doing my stuff. And with my dad – I thank God for my dad. My dad’s like, “You’re a guy. You work. You pay your way. Good. It’s good for you.” And you know what? He’s right. He was totally right. Thank God for my dad. My brother and my other brother and myself, we’re all doing great, making good money, doing fine. My brothers are all in management leadership running companies or businesses. It’s great. You pamper a guy from his youth, and he just – he gets this course of action. All of the sudden he feels like if his hands are dirty, or his muscles are sore, or if he put-in a long day, or thought something was tough, that’s unusual; that’s abnormal. And so, he avoids it.
It’s good. A guy’s gotta work. What else are you gonna do? If not, your strength, he tells his son, goes in a very destructive direction. So, it’s good to put it toward working and making money and getting something done.
The last one: Men who abandon altogether. Some men abuse. Some men avoid. Some men abandon. These are men who get all fired up. “That’s it. I’m gonna get a job. I’m gonna get a wife. I’m gonna be a dad. I’m gonna love a woman. I’m gonna raise my kids. I’m gonna buy a house. I’m gonna mow my lawn.” Then they realize, “Boy, this is hard. I quit. I quit. It’s hard. It’s – it’s a lot of work. I didn’t know it was gonna be a lot of work.” Well, scripture says thorns and thistles; it’s gonna be a fight. Not only is the ground warring against you, but so is the woman who’s supposed to be helpful. So, expect a lot of long, hard days. These are guys who say, “Okay, honey, I love you. We’re gonna be married forever.” A couple months in he’s like, “Ah, this is just – this is a lot of work.” He gets his kids and says, “Oh, okay, I’m gonna be a dad.” And then he realizes, you know, they mess their pants, and they pick their nose, and they need a lot of work. And he says, “Well, I’ll be down at the pub. You know, I don’t know. Find a good day-care. I just – I can’t do it. I’m sick of it.”
Men who get in and then get out. And some of you gals know this. You’ll be dating guys and in the first two weeks they’ll be hot and heavy. “Hey, I love you. We’re gonna do this. I’m committed.” And then they’re like, “Ah, I don’t know. I’m praying about it.” Hot and cold. In and out. Hot and cold. In and out. Guys who will make a decision, and then they can’t stick with it, and they quit. These are guys who go through jobs. They go through women. They go through churches. They go through theologies. Because everything they get is a lot of work, and they’re looking for a short-cut. Proverbs talks about these men. They’re like Adam. When Adam sinned, what did he do? He abandoned. He was in relationship with God and relationship with a woman. And what does he do? He runs from them both. He abandons the woman, and he abandons God. Men have that same tendency. Proverbs 2, it says, “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men; from men whose words are perverse; who leave the straight paths to walk in darkness; who delight in doing wrong; and rejoice is the perverseness of evil; whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.” So, certain guys abandon their responsibilities. Here’s what they do. They encourage other guys to leave a straight and narrow path to walk in dark ways.
And you’ll also find that there are women that have done this, that have wandered from their marriages. And if a guy’s looking to get off-track and get himself in trouble, he’ll find plenty of women and plenty of men who have already departed from their commitments and their obligations. And he can find a bunch of people to journey with; and it’s death. It’s not good. Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” That’s the essence of a man who abandons his responsibilities. He’s duplicitous. “Honey, I love you. I’m outta here.” “Boss, I’ll work hard and be honest. I quit. This is a lot of work.” “Kids, I’m your dad. I’ll be here for you. I don’t know. This is more than I was anticipating.”
This is a guy who gets motivated, puts the responsibility on his back. Scripture says, “It’s good for a man to carry the yoke while he’s young.” It is good. Put a little weight on him, let him get his strength up. You say, “I can’t carry it.” Well, that’s good. We’re gonna build your strength and build your wind so you can carry it. And some guys are like, “No, it’s too much.” Drop. And they’re duplicitous. These are guys that are fired-up one minute and two weeks later they’re done. Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength?” Some guys are great until its hard, and then they quit. You know, I mean, this happens all the time. “Well, yeah. I had that job, and I quit.” How come? Did you get another job? “No, I don’t have a job now. Just, that one got really hard.” Well, every job is hard, because everything under your dominion is cursed. That means it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it’s going to be work. It’s gonna be work. So you can’t keep looking for something easy and simple. There is nothing like that other than sin.
Sin is the only thing that doesn’t take effort, and doesn’t fight against you. Sin is compliant, and will just drag you along, no fight at all. Lastly he talks about certain kinds of men who abandon. Proverbs 27:8, “Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” Some of the guys abandon very subtly. They work late. They hang-out at the strip club. They – they go out with their buddies. They take long, extended business trips that aren’t really business trips. They just sort of avoid their wife and kids, and their responsibilities. It’s true, isn’t it men? Can’t really argue with me today. You may hate my guts and never come back, and we’ll have some more seats freed up, which is basically the whole motive for this series. But it’s true, isn’t it? God has made you to do some things, and if you don’t do those you’re either going to avoid them, abandon them or abuse them. Or, you’re gonna do what God has created you to do. I’ll tell you the good news. You do what God has created you to do, and there’s a lot of grace there. There’s a lot of grace. God is a gracious God. Not with men who avoid, abandon or abuse. There’s not a lot of grace for those guys. There’s a lot of spankings and discipline, because a father disciplines the sons he loves, Proverbs says. But, for guys who say, “That’s it. My wife is gonna be my wife. My job. I’m gonna work hard. My things. I’m gonna cultivate. I’m gonna fight for justice. I’m not gonna put-up with nonsense. I’m gonna do what God’s made me to do.” There’s a lot of grace there for those guys.
What I want at Mars Hill is men. I’m gonna say it as clean, as plain as I can. Did I say I don’t want women and children? That’s not what I said. But women and children with men who abandon or abuse or avoid, that’s not nice for women. Ask a single mother how nice it was that the man abandoned his obligations. Ask a woman who’s getting beaten by her husband how much she would like someone to be stronger than him, and to give him the truth? See, I think the nicest thing we can do for women, the nicest thing we can do for children, is to make sure that the men are like Christ; in a good way; in a loving, dying, serving way. Pouring themselves out. That’s why I get frustrated when I see churches that have enormous children’s ministries, and enormous women’s ministries, and no men.
Because, what they have is, they’re hiring people to study the Bible and pray with the ladies, and they already have Christian husbands. And the husbands should be doing that. And they’re hiring youth pastors who are 20 years old to babysit kids who are 17 years old, because those kids wanna love the Lord and study the Bible. But they have Christian fathers, and their fathers aren’t doing that. It’s just, well, if you have a Christian dad, shouldn’t he be having these sort of Proverbs conversations around the dinner table with his kids? Am I saying women’s ministries sin, or children’s ministries sin? No. Am I saying that they are a sin if the men are not doing their job, and we’re trying to work around the men and avoid our responsibilities to confront the men, and abandoning the things that scriptures call us to for women and children? Yes, then it’s sin. Then, it’s sin.
I will be devastated if there is a Christian woman in this church who, all of the sudden comes to me and says, “I don’t have anyone to pray with, and my children don’t have anyone to answer their Bible questions.” And she has a Christian husband. I’ll be devastated. I’ll be absolutely destroyed. Because, that’s not only his duty, that’s his privilege. He’s supposed to be a cultivator. He’s supposed to cultivate that woman and those kids, and this life, and this ministry, and this wonderful opportunity. And if he abandons, or avoids, or abuses that, then no amount of programming or effort on behalf of this church can make up for his sin. We can’t make up for him. I’ll close with this picture for the men, from Proverbs 14:4.
If you’re like me and you’re visual, maybe this will make sense. Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty. But from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.” Maybe this will make sense for the men. A guy goes out and says, “You know, I need to be a man. I need to get myself a piece of land.” Agrarian society. All of the sudden, the guy’s out there plowing his land, trying to cultivate it, get rid of the thorns and thistles and grow something. And he realizes this is hard work. And he starts thinking, “I need an ox. I need an ox.” So, he goes and gets himself an ox, and then he builds a barn to house his ox. And the first thing he realizes is that the ox is very helpful for sort of tilling and cultivating and creating a harvest, but that the ox also has a very negative down-side. You put food in an ox, and it doesn’t come out of the ox exactly the same as it went in the ox. It’s much more pleasant going in than it is coming out. The ox is a machine that does very interesting things to nourishment. And so, all of the sudden, he goes out to his barn and he realizes that his barn is not just filled with the ox, it’s filled with – with some of the ox’s contributions to the barn. We’ll just use that language.
I would say some other words, but then I’d get lots of e-mails. So, I’ll just say that. And so, what the man determines is, “Well, I need to get myself a shovel to go scoop all the things that are amassing on the floor under my ox, in my barn.” And as the guy is sitting there scooping, he realizes that he’s going to be doing this how often? Every day. For how long? Forever. And so, he doesn’t know Proverbs, so he thinks to himself, “Well, maybe I could avoid this. Maybe I’ll just leave the ox in the barn and I won’t scoop.” How does that work? He goes out there a year or two later, and the ox is living on top of the barn because all of the stuff has piled-up higher than the barn. And the poor ox is now 15 or 20 feet off the ground, just standing on his own feces. The ox has created a real problem, because the man has not done his job.
What that man does then, he calls Mars Hill, and he panics, and he wants all the rest of us to get our shovel and come over and clean out his barn. Because, he has not been tending to his own stuff. Some of you men are very weak, and you don’t like to shovel all the time. And you come to church looking for other men to come over and shovel your barn. You shovel it. You say, “But it’s really high.” Well, you should be well rested. You apparently haven’t been exercising, and working out, and shoveling. So, you should be well-rested and up to the task. “Well, this is gonna take years.” Keep shoveling. That’s your barn. That’s your ox. God bless you. Here’s your shovel.
Another guy comes along and he says, “Well, we do have other options. Maybe if you beat that ox he wouldn’t do that anymore.” He’s abusive. Not gonna avoid it. Maybe we just yell at the ox and beat him until he stops dropping things on the floor. We don’t like that mess. So, he gets out his shovel, and rather than scooping he uses it to beat his ox. Come to find, though, no matter how hard he beats the ox, the ox still keeps going.
Third guy comes along and says, “Well, let’s just kill the ox. That’ll fix it. If you kill the ox, then the barn will be clean. And then you don’t have to scoop any more stuff.” Is that a wise choice? No wisdom in that at all, because if you kill the ox what happens to your fields? Nothing. And you’re not cultivating or building anything. So, here is your goal, men, out of Proverbs 14:4. You have two goals you could pursue in life. One is: A clean barn. If you want a clean barn, then you are not a man. You’re not cultivating. You’re not working. You’re not doing anything, but your barns are clean, because you don’t have anything going on. I would not encourage you to seek a clean barn. What I would encourage you to do is keep shoveling. Those are your options. Your options are: I want a clean barn. Or, your option is: I want to shovel. Give me my shovel. Let me shovel. Does that analogy make any sense for the men? Do you ever get up and look at your life and say, “There is just dung everywhere, and I feel like I’m always shoveling. I am always shoveling.” Anyone feel like that? Tomorrow’s Monday. You’re all gonna wake up and you’re gonna go, “Yes, I know now. It stinks and it’s all over, and I just – I have my shovel. And the ox is bigger than me, and I don’t think I’m ever going to catch up.” That’s your life. That’s your life.
A lot of guys hit that and they say, “Well, I’m gonna go into ministering.” I’m telling you. There’s a – I’ve got about 1,000 oxen, okay? There’s always something in my barn. There’s no short-cut. Let me ask you this, though, guys: As you shovel, do you not feel like that is what you were made for? I’m a man. This is good. I’m doing my job. We’re making progress. I’m fighting the good fight. Good. That’s what you’re built for. Keep shoveling. And as you do, what you will find is the gospel makes more sense. Why does the ox keep doing this to me? God’s like, “That’s the question I’ve been asking you, you dumb ox. You’ve been messing-up my barn. Now you know how it feels.”
And it brings a man to a place of humility and surrender, and he realizes he needs Jesus to be a warrior for him, to conquer Satan, sin and death, on the cross. That he needs Jesus to be a wise sage, teaching him, nurturing him, leading him, guiding him, imparting wisdom so he knows how to live. And a cultivator who’s continually working, never giving up. Aren’t you glad Jesus doesn’t abuse us? Take the shovel and just whack us? Some of you say, “Well, Mark does that.” I know, but not Jesus. Jesus doesn’t do that. Aren’t you glad that Jesus doesn’t just abandon us, like, “Well, I said I loved you, and it was a lot of work, and there’s stuff all over the barn. I’m leaving.” Aren’t you glad that Jesus doesn’t avoid us and say, “Well, I don’t like scooping, so I’m not going to hang-out with these dumb ox.” And a man starts to learn a lot about the gospel as he throws himself into his tasks.
Okay, I want the men to pray with me. And I want the men to stand, and I’ll pray for them. We’ll close with this. We’ll take communion; take our offering. I want the men to stand. We’re gonna pray for you.