At the end of our workout the other day some of the guys at the gym and I, for no good reason, took turns deadlifting 425 pounds just to see who could do it.
Thankful that I didn’t destroy my back, I began to wonder why we engaged in such a Neanderthal-ish activity. My wife later told me it was ridiculous and she isn’t wrong, I guess, but we were just men being men by trying to show each other how tough we are. And we are tough, in a physical sense anyway, but that really isn’t the kind of tough we should be.
Ultimately, I don’t merely want to be seen or known as a guy who can deadlift more than 400 lbs., complete a triathalon, or even quickly blacken an eye if I had to.
The kind of toughness Christian men should strive to achieve is the same kind Jesus displayed when He carried His cross down the Via Dolorosa.
Not only did Jesus carry a very heavy Roman cross after He had been severely beaten, which would have been an amazing display of toughness by itself, He also carried the weight of every offense that will ever be committed against God on His shoulders.
Jesus was tough no doubt about it, but His physical toughness isn’t what should impress anyone nearly as much as His willingness to be tortured and sentenced to death when He didn’t have to do either. That kind of self-sacrifice and deliberate commitment to following a greater authority is what makes a man tough. Besides what good are feats of strength anyway when we are all, at our very essence; broken, flawed, wounded, and prone to disobedience and sin?
Anyway, a few days ago I went to an event that just started in my town called Man Church where over 200 men from 20 different churches gathered together for a manly meal, manly music, and a manly message. Even though there was no chest beating, fist bumping, and taking turns picking up heavy things and putting them down, what I saw was more genuine Christian masculinity and toughness than I ever see in one place.
More than 200 men committed to joyful obedience, fellowship, brotherhood, and community. Men committed to spiritual growth, discipleship, living out the Great Commission, and committed with all their hearts to godliness and abiding in the Word of Truth. Man, it was quite an inspirational and uplifting evening and, get this, no one broke a sweat or risked injury.
While physical strength will always be impressive, it will be godly men who get their strength from The Lord, not physically strong men with something to prove who change the world.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
– 1 Timothy 4:8