More Than Ramping Up Smack Talk
The authors of inspired epistles sometimes addressed different groups in the church. The apostle John addressed little children, young men, and fathers, twice each in 1 John 2:12-14. The apostle Paul gave instructions to Titus for four groups: older men, older women, young women, and young men in Titus 2:1-6. I’d like to commend, and exhort, our young men directly, but in earshot of their parents and the rest of the body.
Many years ago Solomon wrote that “The glory of young men is their strength” (Proverbs 20:29). This is what John says, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong” (1 John 2:14). Solomon compared that in the second half of the proverb to “the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” It’s generally true; not all the young have brawn and not all the old have learned to use their brains. But again, generally, this is something to be recognized and something to be encouraged.
Strength is good. Strength is a gift of God to be used. Strength is also something that requires self-control. Paul said “sound doctrine” had six headings for old men, four for older women, and another six for young women, and he boiled it down to one for young men: “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6).
This has application for their bodies, for their minds, for their mouths, for their bedrooms, for their assignments, and for their relationships.
We can be very thankful to God for our young men. Overall they are using their strength for serving others, and some have even chosen new challenges to develop greater discipline. It is because of your growth that I offer this exhortation.
The development of strength and self-control is good, but the process has its own temptations. One temptation is a puffed up attitude toward others. You’re working it, then you let others know about it. Muscles are for more than mirrors, and strength is for more than ramping up smack-talk. A second temptation is to relax too far in other areas, either because of being fatigued or because of too narrow a focus in the first place. Years ago when I wanted to lose some weight, I would run for a few hours training for a marathon, and chased the run with an entire pizza. I deserved it, right? There are more damaging let downs as well. A 45 minute workout in the dark morning cold is good, but not if you wander into dark parts of YouTube later.
Young men, keep running to win the prize and lifting the weight of responsibility. It is your glory. Parents, encourage that glory, and help them see the glory of integrity and humility.