The Essence of Masculine Strength

Stephen Ashton 0 Comments

Strength is the glory of manhood. Manhood and strength are synonymous.” – James Isaac Vance

A Christian man must be humble, but also strong. He must practice self-denial, but should also possess self-respect. He is taught to forgive his enemies, but also to be angry and sin not. Strength calls for self-restraint and self-control, but also for self-respect and self-assertion. The secret of masculine strength is summed up in one command: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God (Micah 6:8).” All cannot be great statesmen, but all can do justly; all cannot be great theologians, but all can love mercy; all cannot be great discoverers, but all can walk humbly with God. Whether he be a lawyer, doctor, clerk, housekeeper, servant, preacher, politician, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, he can reach this level. These are the things the world most needs.

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.

Strength is not like the willow that bends low to every breeze, but rather like the oak that stands stiff in the tempest, or like the granite cliff against which the mad sea dashes itself to pieces. This is what it means to be strong, and before such a life the world makes way. Such manhood is in command. The need has never been greater: in state and church, in public and private, in work for men and work for God, the call is for men of strength.

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.

There must be men of conscience in places of public trust. Has he a conscience? Is it on the throne? Then he may be a candidate. Justice is to be done, even if it costs everything. Too often what passes as justice is only the mockery. A just man is one who "sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not."

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. A just man is the one in whom conscience is the sovereign, who is saturated with scripture, and who stands not for his own honor and glory, but for the honor and glory of God.

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 manly 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." "If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same (Matt 5:46)?”

Strength is never so noble as when bending to succor the weak, and gentleness to be royal must be clothed with strength. Royal manhood 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

Added to the framework of justice and the flesh of mercy, must be 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 succor. 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 doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

The Secret of Masculine Strength

Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly - 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. Follow the career of the great apostle. Was ever a man stronger? He says: “I can do all things," but adds, "through Christ which strengthens me." Paul's humble trust was the secret of his marvelous power. It is faith in God that makes men strong. Moral strength is the characteristic of a positively religious life. “When we are weak, then we are strong.”

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. Death itself will be changed into a yielding shadow, and passing into the land where life is ever in the strength of pristine youth, it will take its place among the choice spirits of all ages, the secret of whose victory is that they were “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”

Blog Content is quoted and edited from James Isaac Vance book Royal Manhood.

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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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