A Call for Men of Strength

Stephen Ashton 2 Comments

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Quoted from and inspired by James Isaac Vance's Book from 1899, Royal Manhood.

"In state and church, in public and private, in work for men and work for God, the call is for men of strength: strong in purpose and strong in action; strong within and strong without; strong against foes that are seen and strong against foes that are unseen. Strength is the glory of manhood. Manhood and strength are synonymous." On the contrary, weakness in conviction, in character, in spiritual discipline, in courage, or in endeavor are the damnation of manhood. This sort of weakness begets poverty, crime, sloth, and every form of sin. "If one expects to amount to anything in life, he must be strong. Barriers are to be surmounted, discouragements silenced, temptations resisted, and for all this there is needed a manhood invincible and strong."

"The very notion of strength dictates action, it presupposes work. What else can one do with it? A man can't keep it, unless it be used. Money may be hoarded without loss; beauty, culture, knowledge, may be hoarded and their miserly owner be the gainer; but if strength be hoarded it dwindles. The blacksmith's arm is brawny because he hammers away at the anvil from dawn to dark. The scholar's brain is alert, because his mind thinks out great thoughts." The artist’s hand is skilled from hours of exacting articulation. "Strength may be kept only by use; and so this word, 'strength,' which utters the glory of manhood, likewise indicates the glory of service."

Biblical Masculinity is bravery harnessed by wisdom, action tethered by self-restraint, self-assertion marked by self-control, and honor clothed in humility. It is willing to risk all, yet is tempered by a learned discernment. It's strength is characterized by both self-denial and self-respect. It is possessed by a man who has been taught to forgive his enemies, but also to be angry and sin not. The essence of Biblical Masculinity is summed up in one command: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God (Micah 6:8).”

Do Justly

"To 'do justly' requires action. It is the absence of excuse-making, it is industry, surety, poise, and reliability. It means playing the man. It implies moral as well as physical strength. It is the ability to stand against ridicule and popular opinion. There must be the courage that stands to its convictions, whatever people may think or say."

A just man is the one in whom conscience is sovereign, who is saturated with scripture, and who stands not for his own honor and glory, but for the honor and glory of God. " To 'do justly' means for a man to stand for truth and in doing so, to be true to himself. Justice is fairness, uprightness, integrity, honesty, the determination to do right at any cost. It sacrifices expediency for truth, popularity for conviction, gains for manhood, honors for honor. Justice is the reign of right in conduct." 

"Justice stands for strength in character. It is the framework of manhood. It is bone and sinew, stature and reach. A just man is a tower of strength in church and state, rich in resources, standing unbent in storm and needing no watchman to see that he does right. But it is not enough to be strong; steel is strong, but cold and cruel. Warmth and tenderness are needed as well as strength." And so to strength is added mercy. A man loves mercy.

Love Mercy

"Mercy is a great word in the lexicon of the kingdom of manhood, and Christianity gives us our loftiest conception of mercy. It is more than pity and compassion for the deserving. It is kindness to the unthankful and the evil. 'Love your enemies...For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matt 5:46)?'

Strength is never so noble as when bending to help the weak, and gentleness must be clothed with strength. Masculinity is as strong as it is gentle, and as gentle as it is strong.

Mercy is tenderness, compassion, forbearance and forgiveness. It is life thinking, toiling, suffering for others. It is love in exercise. It is not a perfunctory discharge of duty." Mercy is the overflow of the heart of man properly aligned with God. "Justice is strength, and mercy is tenderness. The two meet in the same life."

As God builds men, justice serves as the framework of manhood, but there must be more than bone and muscle. Hence he clothes with flesh, sets the organs in place, and starts the heart to throbbing. This is mercy.

Walk Humbly

Finally, to nourish organs, give warmth to flesh, and sustain life - to the framework of justice and the flesh of mercy - there must be added the lifeblood of humility. "A man must 'walk humbly with God.' This is the source of its strength and the secret of its gentleness. An irreligious life must ever remain an incomplete life.

As one goes through the world he should have fellowship with his Maker. How small is life without this other world! He has lived a poor, starved existence who, through his struggles, sorrows, and discipline, has reached no hand toward the unseen and felt no touch of the divine presence.

Manhood must stretch forth its hand to heaven in trust, if it would reach down its hand to earth in aid. It is not a brilliant life that is demanded. There is no noise, no display, no sensation. Masculinity is not defined by worldly honors nor applause. It is content to have God for a companion. Is not this the secret of the sincerest devotion? It is easy to affect goodness when goodness is blazoned abroad, but the purest devotion is the least conspicuous. The heroism that is obscure is the most heroic.

'Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.' Be true to yourself, to your fellow man and to your Maker — such is the dignity of a true life. God crowns it with his endless benediction, 'what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?'"

The Secret of Masculine Strength

"Here we have struck upon the secret of this masculine strength. It is the glory of life and the source of high success. It is open to all. It is not a matter of temperament or training, but of faith. God's strength flows into human life as the tide. There is no noise, it is scarcely perceptible, but it is sovereign. The majestic strength of biblical manhood is the gift of God and it comes in answer to faith.

The weakest before God are the strongest before men. Such manhood makes its way here in the face of all obstacles, and when it passes into that other life, we may rest assured that its strength will abide, because God, the source of its strength, abides. By the might of God it will push its way through all barriers and will take its place among those whose secret of victory is that they were, 'strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.'”

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About the Author
Stephen Ashton

Stephen Ashton

Stephen Ashton is the National Director of Marketing for Trail Life USA and serves as an adjunct professor at Clarks Summit University and Anchor Christian University. Prior to his work at Trail Life, he spent 15 years working with at-risk youth in residential therapeutic wilderness programs and served as the Vice-President of the Wilderness Road Therapeutic Camping Association. An author and a speaker, he has written for journals and published a book chronicling the foundations of therapeutic camping. He frequently speaks on the topics of fatherhood, biblical masculinity, outdoor education, and wilderness therapy. Stephen lives in South Carolina with his wife and 4 sons.

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