Surely many of you fathers have watched your young sons put on your shoes and try to walk. They walked clumsily and uncertainly. Were they a man when they did this? Were they a man when they could really wear your shoes? How do you measure a man? Most boys are raised with the idea that someday they will be a man. They are even encouraged to grow up and be a man. But what constitutes the changing of a boy to a man?
When in junior high you may have been considered a man if you had side burns! Certainly if you had a mustache, too, you were really a man!
In high school there were several measures of a man. For instance, when you finally got that long awaited driver’s license and no longer had to walk home or ride the school bus, but were able to drive the family sports car—usually a Ford Fairlane, Chevy Nova or some other exotic brand—you were a man!
How about today? What measures you as a man? Is it money? Is it social status in life? Is it your profession? Is it toughness? Just what measures a man today? The world offers many measures of being a man, none of which are biblical. Let’s look to God’s Word for the measure of a man.
CALLED TO BE A MAN
King David, the greatest king Israel had known, was close to dying. The next King of Israel would be David’s son, Solomon. David, understanding the significance of the matter, called his son to his side and offered him a true measure of a man: “I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whither-soever thou turnest thyself.” 1 Kings 2:2, 3.
There is a point in the life of a boy when he must accept the role of being a man, the filling of a man’s shoes. For Solomon, this was his time. With his father dying, he would be next to step into the shoes of becoming a man. David’s advice was to be strong and walk in the ways of God.
The world promotes a strong dad as someone whose muscles bulge. In David’s fatherly advice to Solomon, he was saying more than just be a physically strong man. Physical strength alone does not prove one to be a man. David was calling for Solomon to be strong in the Lord, to aquire from the Lord his strength for life’s trials.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:10. Ellen White wrote: “To everyone He [God] grants power according to the need. In his own strength man is strengthless; but in the might of God he may be strong to overcome evil and to help others to overcome. Satan can never gain advantage of him who makes God his defense. ‘Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength.’ Isaiah 45:24.” Prophets and Kings, 175.
Solomon, in 1 Kings 3:9, asked God not for strength or riches, but for understanding (wisdom) to lead the people. “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” A real man is not measured from the outside, but from the inside, where God’s strength resides.
WALK IN THE WAYS OF GOD
Solomon was charged with the act of proving himself to be a man by keeping the charge of the Lord and walking in His ways. A true man is a man of God who walks with God.
- Keep His Statutes
The statutes of God are ordinances to live by, ordinances that give life a sense of stability. “Strength of character is to be honored by those who claim to keep the commandments and statutes of God.—Manuscript 154, 1902, p. 12.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 172. “If they [the people of God] would be faithful to obey all the statutes of God they would have a power which would carry conviction to the hearts of the unbelieving.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 446.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7.
- Keep His Commandments
The commandments are the Law of God. A true man will strive to keep the commandments of God. “Make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.” Exodus 18:16. “Children should be taught that they are only probationers here, and educated to become inhabitants of the mansions which Christ is preparing for those who love Him and keep His commandments. This is the highest duty which parents have to perform.” The Adventist Home, 146.
The greatest commandment is to love God then one another. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matthew 22:37–39. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” 1 John 4:20, 21. To keep this commandment, men, you will find yourself being a real man.
- Keep His Judgments
“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:3. “These are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: that thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee . . . all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.” Deuteronomy 6:1, 2.
“The Lord gave his people commandments, in order that by obeying them they might preserve their physical, mental, and moral health.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 414.
- Keep His Testimonies
“Blessed [are] they that keep his testimonies, [and that] seek him with the whole heart.” Psalm 119:2.
Men, “Let us take this [Psalm 119:1-6] for our lesson. Study every word attentively. Upright principles and pure sentiments, cultivated and practiced, form a character after the divine similitude. A conscience void of offense toward God and man, a heart that feels the tenderest sympathy for human beings, especially that they may be won for Christ, will have the attributes that Christ had. All such will be imbued with His Spirit. They will have a reservoir of persuasion and a storehouse of simple eloquence.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 120.
The testimonies of God speak of His statutes, commandments, and judgments. The man of God will prove himself and prosper by walking in the ways of God.
PASS THE MANTLE
David was passing the mantle to Solomon. David had sinned and suffered the consequences, and now he was instructing his son to keep the ways of God rather than the ways of man. “That the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.” 1 Kings 2:4.
Men, there must be a passing of the mantle from your lives to the lives of your children. What will you pass to them? Will they look to your lives to see the value of walking in the ways of God?
There is a reciprocal law working in your life as well as your children’s lives. “Children live what they learn!” This is perhaps best illustrated by the story of a young pastor who supplemented the income from his first pastorate by mixing feed for livestock. Each day when he came home from work his two boys, ages two and three, would look at him and say, “Boy, Daddy, you sure are dusty.” He would agree with them, then go to take a shower and put on clean clothes.
He did not think too much of this daily exchange until one day when he was working in the garden and noticed his oldest son picking up gravel and stones from the driveway and rubbing them into his pants. “What are you doing?” he asked the little man.
“I want to be dusty like you, Daddy!” came the childish reply.
If a small child would look up to his father for being dusty and want to copy him, a child could look up to his father and follow him in any way. Have your children experienced the truth of God in you? Do your children understand, through your life, what it means to give heart and soul to Christ?
It is not enough to be a man who lets his children decide for themselves. You must show them the way of God through your lives.
Be a man! A real man that is not afraid to let his family and the world know that he stands for Christ and walks in the way of God. A relay coach says that the relay race is won by a successful pass of the baton. In the race of life to reach the goal of heaven, how are you passing on the baton to your children?
A member of the LandMarks’ editorial staff, Anna writes from her home near Sedalia, Colorado. She may be contacted by e-mail at JSchu67410@aol.com.