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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hard Questions – Are You A Mouse or A Man?

Proverbs 24:10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

Recently my sister and brother-in-law and their two small children paid us a visit.  It was a real blessing to spend time with family, especially those who desire to please God.  My brother-in-law is the sort of father who is very involved in the training and instructing of his children and, though he has a warm friendship and relationship with them, he also has certain expectations as to their behavior.

In the course of their visit here there were a number of times when my small nephew, who is 5 years old, was behaving in a way that his father perceived as weak or unmanly.  Now, he desires to see his son learn to be a man from an early age and so he is training him in that direction.  When some of these events happened my brother-in-law was apt to ask him, “Are you a mouse or a man?” in a friendly but firm tone of voice.  My nephew would answer in a somewhat timid, but still decided manner, “A man.”  To this his father would reply one of several things: “Well, then act like it.” Or, “Then do such-and-such” (something pertaining to the situation).  Or, “Then don’t let me hear any more squeaking.” (My personal favorite.)

I enjoyed these scenes quite thoroughly.  They were always done in a hardy comrade sort of way meant to help the small son to buck up and do the manly thing.  In thinking about it, though, I realized that it had applications for a wider thought for us as Christians.

We all have our struggles and weaknesses and our moments when we are faint and don’t stand up and do the strong thing.  Every one of us has his or her own battle to face where we must “gird up the loins” of our mind (1 Peter 1:13), and dig in and do whatever it is that has to be done with a brave spirit.  In short, be men, not mice.

Now, I know some ladies will object, possibly even with vigor, that we are not men and can’t be expected to act like them.  I know that from a human stand point.  Yes, women are the weaker vessel in many respects (1 Peter 3:7).  But, in the spiritual realm another law rules.

We are told in 1 Peter 3:1-4,  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Now there’s a lot there that I’m not going to go into now, but what I want to point out is that those ladies who are in Christ have a hidden man of the heart – in the sight of God.  Now, there are some people who believe some rather odd things about what we’ll all be when we get to heaven.  I’m not going there in this discussion.  But, what we know from the New Testament epistles is that women do have a hidden man of the heart and in many passages the writers address the whole church as if they were speaking to us all as brothers in Christ – spiritual men.  We admit this when we apply so many of those passages to all the church – men, women and children – in a broad manner.  “Put on the whole armour of God..” Ephesians 6:11.  “Fight the good fight of faith…” 1 Timothy 6:12.  “Bear ye one another’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2.  2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And, so on and so forth.  We know that we are all soldiers of Christ.

Galatians 3:26-28 tell us, For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Christ Jesus there is no male nor female, among other things.  We are all one in Him.

So, what am I trying to say here?  Basically this, our Father in heaven is a kind and loving father to us as well, and He desires to see us buck up and fight the good fight of faith.

Now, sometimes, like my small nephew, we hold back, we are afraid, we are running around our small world squeaking and fussing instead of being “men”.  I do it.  I know you do it too because  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” 1 Corinthians 10:13.  :-)  It’s a basic flaw in mankind at large to wimp out at some point or another, no matter how strong any one person thinks he or she is.

As our starting verse says, If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.  Proverbs 24:10  We all face adversity at some point and in some way.  It’s a part of life.  And, we don’t always face it without fainting.  We are flesh still after all.  But, I think sometimes our kind Father would ask us, “Are you a mouse or a man?” 

You see, He has given us all the tools in Christ Jesus to be men for Him in this battle.  No matter what particular adversity comes, He has gone before and provided the ability to meet it through the work that His Son did on Calvary.  He has purchased the salvation.  He has given us His Spirit to strengthen us in the hidden man of the heart.  He has provided the armor and He will provide the strength.  Yes, it is hard.  But, it is also a great privilege that He should ask us to stand up and be soldiers for Him.

Sometimes we are like my nephew, I think.  In our hearts we don’t want to be mice, so we give the right answer, but we answer in a hesitant voice. The thing is, we know if we answer that we are “men” our heavenly Father is going to tell us to do something that we really don’t want to do. We all feel this way secretly in our hearts at times. We’re afraid or timid to do the strong thing, but at the same time we don’t want to be counted as mice! :-)

You know, I never saw my brother-in-law ask his small son to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself.  The Lord is not asking us to do anything that He has not done Himself.  In fact, He has done far, far beyond what He asks us.  In the person of Jesus Christ, He died for mankind.  In that alone He did far more than He will ever ask us to do.

The Father forsook His Son - Matthew 27:46  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 

The Son took upon Him all of our sins, our failures, our human faults and flaws and heartaches both small and great.  Isaiah 53:3-5  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

He obviously has the power to do all that is required, and He only asks us to go and do based upon His own power.  And, what’s more, He has promised to be with us alway.  Matthew 28:18-20  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Surely that is enough?

How about you today?  Are you hiding from the responsibility, work or battle that God has for you?  Are you running around squeaking in complaint or protest of the trials of life?  I struggle with these things myself.  I believe there are times when we each need to ask ourselves, “Are you a mouse or a man?”

1 Corinthians 16:13, Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.


For further consideration:

God’s Will Be Done – a poem by Annie Johnson Flint

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