Monday, April 20, 2015

St. Paul Told Us What A Man Is, But Didn't Give Us Any Practical Tips...


Good St. Paul was finishing his letter and had some closing details to take care of.
"I'll stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, I can't allow these opportunities to be lost, despite the roadblocks. 
When Timothy comes, make things easy for him. He's doing the Lord's work. Help him with his work, because I expect him back with the brothers. Also, I talked to Apollos and told him it was important that he come visit you all, but he told me he wouldn't be able to for a while. He'll come as soon as things work out. 
And oh, yeah. Yeah. Before I forget... 
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 
Anyway, back to business. You all know Stephanas, the first to be converted..."
Wait. What?!

Yep. Wait. What?!

Stuck in at the end of 1 Corinthians, in the middle of Paul's laundry list of final details, a casual reminder, my friends, of how to be a man. Of how men ought to be living every day. The day-to-day. The everyday. The routine. The quotidian. The norm. Every day we ought to be acquitting ourselves like men.

Firm in the faith. Watchful. Strong. Yes! Manly things to be done manfully!

But let's not forget that last, all-important piece of being a man. Letting all our things be done in love. All our things, sweet homies. Our work. Our relationships. Our entertainments. Our studies.

Think about what that might mean. That to be a man means to do all our things in love. Watchful, check. Firm, check. (Just ask wifey.) Strong, check. All of it done in love. Nope, that one was a bridge too far.

This is where chivalry comes from. This is how men become men. We are first so that we might be last. We are first and therefore we must be last. The more power a Christian has, the more kindness he must show. The more wisdom. The more mercy. The more gentleness. The more love.

The love in this verse is agape, the pure love, the selfless love. It's the do you want my cake love. It is the most difficult and the most sacrificial.

It is good for a man to measure his manliness in units like strength or endurance or skill or will. But is it enough if I wrestle with the beasts at Ephesus? If I understand all things and have all knowledge? If I be swifter than eagles and stronger than lions?

Saul was big and tall and strong. And he wasn't just some galoot. He was a legitimately great warrior, in many ways a king to be proud of. But his name is not remembered in honor, because where he was there was no grace, and no love.

If I have not love, I am nothing.

Things done in love usually take a lot of strength. But so what? I can be amazed by the strength of a Highland games pole thrower, but he's just some guy until I see how he behaves. Is it with love or hate or anger or humility? Those things will define him. Not his pole.

Be a man. Let all your things be done in selfless love. Or pray that it be so, by God's lovingkindness.

As for what all this love means day-to-day, I guess you'll have to read your Bible and talk to your dad and listen to your wife and pray without ceasing and not frustrate your children and see what your grandpa thinks and maybe even talk to your father-in-law.

You're going to have figure love out.

No comments:

Post a Comment