Posted On January 10, 2012

Peers and Fears

by | Jan 10, 2012 | The Gospel and the Christian Life

In Living Like a King, we’ll be examining the kings of Israel and Judah during the Divided Kingdom period. We’ll look at the good, the bad, and the ugly, and from them we’ll learn together what kind of men we ought – or ought not – to be.

In last week’s post, we discussed the choice that each of us are given as men to choose what kind of man we will be: whether we will demand the respect and submission of those around us, or whether we will choose to lead and serve them with kindness. Rehoboam chose the former. He chose to demand the respect and obedience he’d never really earned.

…”My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” (1Ki 12:14)

And this is the characteristic of masculinity out of control: it is always looking to up the ante; it is always looking to flex its muscles. This is one of two extremes of manliness – the other being the fearful, weak man – which we should strive to avoid. To help us do that, in today’s post I want to identify the characteristics of masculinity out of control. I want to nail these down, not so that you can look at other people in your life and say “yeah, he’s got a problem.” Instead, I want you to look for these tendencies in your own heart.

While some of us certainly have more than others, I think somewhere in each man’s heart is the desire and the potential to be a Rehoboam – to say “I want. I will. My way.” We do this to our families, to our friends, to our employees – even to God.

First, Masculinity out of Control ignores godly counsel. Specifically, it ignores any counsel it does not want to hear. For Rehoboam, that means ignoring his father’s advisors after seeking counsel from them.

Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?”

And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”

But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. (1Ki 12:6-8)

Think about this for a moment. Despite all of his flaws, the Bible tells us that God gave Solomon more wisdom than anyone who had ever lived. And yet Solomon himself surrounded himself with wise men. What’s more, the wisest man who ever lived wrote on the value of receiving godly counsel:

A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. (Pro 24:5-6)

Chances are, if Solomon thought you were wise enough to be giving advice to him, the wisest man who ever lived, you probably had something to say that was worth hearing. And so these men do – they tell Rehoboam how to keep his kingdom and earn the love and respect of the entire nation. But Rehoboam abandons this godly counsel. Why? Ultimately, because it isn’t what he wants to hear. He doesn’t want to humble himself. He doesn’t want to acquiesce. Rehoboam already knows what he wants to do – now he just needs to find counselors who will justify it.

Secondly, masculinity out of control seeks the approval of its peers. Rehoboam goes to the young men he’s grown up with and they tell him exactly what he wants to hear.

Men are constantly looking for validation. Very much of what we do in our workplace, in sports, and even through outlets such as video games is ultimately centered around receiving the validation, approval, and respect of a community through our performance. While that’s not necessarily wrong, the problem arises when we make our Christianity into a sport. We engage in ministry opportunities and activities or dig for spiritual truths, not as a means for growing closer to God, but to impress or earn the approval of our peers.

One of the most disastrous things that can happen for any group of young men is for them to all band together and call that “accountability” or “community”, without seeking the counsel and help of wise, godly men, who have already obtained victory over some of the same struggles those young men will face. Put another way – it gets you nowhere with God to impress people who are just as ineffective and just as immature as you are.

In next week’s post, we’ll discuss the remaining attributes of masculinity out of control: the demand for respect and the disdain for servant-hood.

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