Even men who don’t want to be like their fathers often turn out to be amazingly similar in their behaviors and personalities. Through the power of God and hard personal choices, however, it’s possible to break out of an ongoing spiral of sin and dysfunction.
Take Josiah, for example. Josiah was a young king who chose to stand against a virtual tidal wave of disobedience fostered by his grandfather Manasseh and his father, Amon. Breaking from this downward spiral was particularly difficult since Josiah had little knowledge to guide his actions. The Scriptures containing God’s laws had been lost for years. But when the high priest discovered the Book of the Law in the Temple, young Josiah immediately initiated spiritual renewal for himself and his people.
As a result, Josiah was able to break the cycle of sin that had captured Israel in its whirl. Josiah was not a perfect man but he was a true champion of spiritual renewal. He was committed to God and had the courage to pursue both personal and national renewal.
Josiah made the difficult choices necessary in order to ‘cut loose’ from the sins of the past and to build a new life for himself and the people of Judah. Are you like Josiah? Do you need to make a break from the past in order to build a new life for yourself? I hope you’ll seek the same powerful God who renewed Josiah.
The triumph of the cross is the pattern for the Christian life. In the death of Christ we witness the death of death itself. Through the cross, Christ defeated your worst and last enemy. He won the war. And in this same way, you’re to fight the remaining battles, confident that the outcome is decided and in your favor.
Reading the gospel sets your thinking in a completely different direction than that of personal potential and self-empowerment’things our society put such a high value to. The gospel calls you to be out of step with the world. You and I must die in order to live. We lose our lives in order to find them. We become strong by becoming weak.
Yet we too often lack the courage and conviction to embrace these gospel paradoxes. Instead, we look at our needs, wants, and desires and formulate a plan we expect God to honor in order to meet them. This keeps us focused on getting our own way rather than on releasing God’s redemptive power in our lives.
How different this is from praying ‘Your will be done”Jesus’ prayer as He went to the cross. The world looks upon this and sees weakness, vulnerability,’and foolishness. Yet, if you believe the Bible, you believe the apostle Paul when he says the cross is the power and wisdom of God.
Men, we’re not better than our Master. Jesus Christ’s life was cross-shaped, and ours should be also.
Sure, Eve was the first to be deceived in the Garden of Eden. We’re told that in the Bible. But Adam, on the other hand, knew that eating the forbidden fruit was in direct contradiction to what and Adam did so anyway!
Through the millennia, Adam’s sons’that’s us, guys’have been just as rebellious. We’ve chosen our own way with a high-handedness and intensity far beyond that shown by most women. Do you doubt this? I invite you to consider just one illustration that demonstrates my point: crime. Who commits crimes at a far greater rate, men or women? Men do. And of the crimes committed by men and women, which group commits crimes of a much more violent nature? Again, men have a clear and decided edge.
I’m not saying men are greater sinners than women. I’m saying that sin affects men differently than it does women, and consequently, that sin expresses itself in ways that demonstrate that difference. My point is this: men tend to be more rebellious than women.
Now, lets translate this point into the dynamic of marriage. Men are more likely to get bored with the straight and narrow; to grow tired of submitting to the needs of their spouses; to demand having things their own way.
Men, know yourselves! Not in order to ‘fix’ yourselves. That’s impossible. But in order to identify areas in need of transformation by the grace of Jesus Christ.