The gospel of Jesus Christ is about liberation and freedom. Liberation and freedom from the bondage of sin and death. As Christian men of valor, we must keep ourselves from unwanted desires. When we set our foot on the path of righteousness, when we set our eyes on the Savior and redeemer – Jesus the Christ – and when we comply in fulfilling our duties, we inevitably strive to become men of valor.
Not a man who meets the standards of the world today. Men who have “awaken and arise” in order to begin the need to uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his everyday life. One who possesses a perfect understanding and has liberating joy in our own divine heritage and birthright. Today, as Christian men of valor, our responsibility and duty is more profound than at any other time. We may do well in pondering and answering the question for ourselves – what manner of men ought ye to be?
Becoming a righteous man is not something we put off. We want to take action today. We are in need of searching our hearts and take a healthy inventory. Socrates is right when he shared an unexamined life is not worth living. If we are not examining our lives on a day-to-day basis by seeing how we are aligning ourselves to the truth of Christ’s teachings, then we are without purpose and meaning. In addition, if there is sin, we do well to confess those sins, repent of those sins, and forsake them. We are to turn no more to those desires that may keep us from fulfilling the unique responsibility and duty we have before our Sovereign God.
We are the light and example of what a true man ought to become. For our sons, we are the light and example on what they desire to become. For our daughters, we are the light and example of what a righteous husband and father is to her mother. To our community, we are the light and example of what a true man is and how we can share the love of Christ to all who are laden with heavy burdens. Through our example of service to our fellow neighbors, we show the love of Christ in all ways and in all things.
True Characteristics of an Honorable Man
Here are some essential qualities of an honorable and valiant man:
- We obtain a perfect understanding of who we are, what our purpose is, and how we are to be of service toward others.
- We are not delighting in any violent behaviors
- Our joy is based on the liberty and freedom our country provides and we do well to ensure that all people enjoy liberty and freedom
- We are productive, we labor for our own welfare, the welfare of our family, and the welfare of our community
- We are firm and bold in our faith in Jesus Christ and are ready to give a defense of the hope that lies within us
- We defend the very rights and privileges afforded by our constitution and by our own country, as well as by our own religious piety
As we begin to strive to become men of of Valor, uplifting one another, standing in bold faith on the founding truth of who Jesus Christ is and the message of the Gospel, we are strengthened. The very powers of hell may be shaken and the adversary will not have any power of the hearts of men.
Understanding our greatest desire and our greatest hinderance
The first step in coming to face who we are is by admitting two simple truths. One, our greatest desire is to experience happiness in this life. Two, our greatest hindrance is the very need to control. This requires us to shift our thought process toward how we define our sense of happiness and come to realize our need for control is merely an illusion.
We truly are not in control of our lives. This is quite a paradigm shift from the worldly mantra. The reality is, we have the very capacity to control our lives as we do in changing the direction of the wind. How much time, energy, frustration and emotional distress have we experienced in battling against things we have no control over?
Our own happiness is not in what is or is not happening. Our faith and happiness is derived from resting in Christ and in the truth of the Gospel as we continue to live out those characteristics. What this means is that since we have a natural desire to pursuit happiness, we inevitably have a desire to come to understand who we are, what our purpose is, and how we are able to be of service towards others. When we continue to think we have control over our life, we may very well act in a manner where we experience excruciating emotional pain.
Instead of attempting to flounder in the abyss of illusion of control, we begin to
learn that as we awaken and arise to become men of valor, following the teachings of Christ, we develop an ever-deepening capacity to embrace life with justice, compassion, curiosity, awe, wonder, serenity, and humility (Shapiro, 2016; Introduction – Recovery, the Sacred Art).
Rami Shapiro shares this insight:
…God is the Source and Substance of All Reality: God is what is and what was and what is not yet. The more mature our spirituality is, that is, the more we embrace life with justice, compassion, curiosity, awe, wonder, serenity, and humility, the more we become aware of God in, with, and as all things.
Jesus Christ, in the sermon on the Mount, provides this wisdom:
Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)
Once we break free from the enslavement of our illusion of control, we begin to come to were we are capable of surrendering ourselves over to a Sovereign God. Various scriptures call us all to put aside the flesh, live according to the spirit, and strive to continue to be servants of righteousness (See, Romans 6:1-23).
Second, our happiness is merely an illusion as well. We desire to be happy, that is true. However, in our modern thought processing, our happiness appears to be contingent on the conditions and unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves and others. This is more so when it comes to the Christian life.
- If God will allow me to get that better paying job, then I will be happy
- If God will speak to my wife, then we will have a happy marriage
- If my children will start listening and obeying me, then I will be happy
- If God will just bring me a companion, then I will be happy
- If God will simply just get me what I need, then I will be happy
This is deceptive, it is false, and it is unrealistic. Our true happiness is not on what God may be capable of doing for us, our happiness is based on whether or not we are content in our present season. Paul writes this:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (See, Philippians 4:1-13).
Therefore, our happiness is based on the reality that as we experience life, we are strengthened in all seasons. Whether we are prospering, or, whether we are suffering and are in need. We have the strength, the courage, the wisdom, and the power to endure because it is through our faith in Christ that we are able to manage.
We essentially have to stop playing God.
We surrender ourselves over to God’s Sovereign Will
After we come to terms with the reality that we do not have control. After we understand our happiness is not contingent on unrealistic expectations of God, self, others, and Life. We are now motivated to surrender ourselves, our life, and our very own natural will over to the Sovereign God we claim to worship and follow.
A practical and simple way we come to surrender over to God is by understanding this truth:
No one can “handle” life without help, particularly heavenly help. There comes that moment when it dawns upon us – and a singular moment it is – when we admit to the fact that our omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-loving God can do far more with our lives than we can. Humility ushers us into the realm of real submission and surrender. And, ironically, submission and unconditional surrender to the true Captain of our souls lead eventually to victory. “Thanks be to God,” Paul exulted, “[who] giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). In short, there is peace, there is rest, there is victory associated with doing things God’s way, through “giving heart and soul” to our Lord and inviting his active participation and direction in our lives. (Robert Millet: Men of Valor – Giving Heart and Soul; 2007).
Our ability to surrender to God’s divine and sovereign will is of utmost importance. However, we do well to be mindful of what type of surrendering we are engaging in.
Our Lord replies to this statement of Peter by saying that this surrender is “for My sake and the gospel’s” (Mark 10:29). It was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves would get out of it. Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefits that may result. For example, “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin, because I want to be made holy.” Being delivered from sin and being made holy are the result of being right with God, but surrender resulting from this kind of thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for any personal gain at all. We have become so self-centered that we go to God only for something from Him, and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “No, Lord, I don’t want you; I want myself. But I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’ ” Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.
Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse— “Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57-62). “Then,” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’ ” (see Luke 14:26-33).
True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.
Our surrender is total, complete, whole, without any form of judgment, criticism, shame, guilt, or justification. We do not hold back. It is radical in that we give all of ourselves over to the care and will of a Sovereign God. We trust in him in all things, and in all ways. We trust in his wisdom, in his counsel, and in his word. It is a daily sacrifice.
As we come to awaken and arise to the realization and wisdom that we possess a divine heritage, and begin to become men of valor in society today; we come to answer the question – What type of men ought ye to be? The answer is simple truth. We are to become the type of men that are a reflection of Christ himself. We are to become like Christ in the way we think, in how we engage, and in how we serve.
Our true identity rests in the personal revelation of who Jesus Christ is. Our greatest devotion is following Christ, putting to death our very own natural desires and tendencies. We live to follow God in all ways and all things. Then, and only then are we capable of not only becoming men of Valor, we become men who find liberation and freedom from the bondages of the unrealistic expectations of the world’s perceptive ideology of what a man ought to be.