Updated: Aug 5, 2022
I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man,
1st Kings 2:2.
So said King David in his last admonition to Solomon. 42 years ago, I heard Peter Ruckman speak about that verse and to this day despite any reservations I may have about the man, I have thanked God for his observation and passed it on to my sons, my son-in-law and to my church. His observation was that in order to serve God in holiness it was essential that a preacher be a man first and foremost.
His observation over the years was that when a man sought to be a christian first and a man second, he failed at both. When a man resolved to be a man, he was able to fear God, serve God, hold fast to the things of faith, and to preach fearlessly. Such a man can weep openly, be tender hearted to the weak, forgive easily, endure hardness, and stand steadfast against the wiles of the devil. My own observations over the years have only confirmed what Peter Ruckman taught on that subject.
When the Apostle Paul sought to bolster the Corinthians against the counter attack of a false Judaism charging against them with the things of the law, he quoted the Philistines of 1st Samuel, Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong, 1st Corinthians 16:13. The attacks upon manhood and its virtues swirl about the public education system, the media, and fallen Protestantism. Could there be a link to the new bibles?
While researching a word change in the new versions, I stopped to consider 2nd Timothy 2:24-25.
2Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
2Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
I have loved those verses and leaned upon them heavily over the years as friends strayed from the truth, as new people attended services, and as I was attacked over doctrine.
My life in the ministry has been blessed by role models that the Lord has so graciously given to me over the years. These were men who fearlessly preached the truth. These were men who faced adversity head on. These were men who could weep with them that weep, but feared not to reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. I have noted that as they have passed on to glory, there are fewer and fewer men who attain to such stature.
As I read 2nd Timothy 2-25 in the ESV, I understood where much of the problem was coming from.
24 And the Lord's servant[a] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
I have observed that the New Version churches in my locale are open to just about every form of doctrine. In fact they glory in not dividing over doctrine. How different is that from Paul's admonition to Timothy; As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 1st Timothy 1:3? How have so many transitioned from earnestly contending for the faith to the mamsy pamsy junk that passes for preaching?
Well, most of these men are not quarrelsome. They smugly sit at their desks proud of their feeble-hearted selves because they avoid divisions. There is a great veneer of kindness in them until you cross them. Their wives often bare emotional scars from their private vindictiveness and cruelty. They are able to teach, but not apt to teach. Provoke a rattlesnake and it's apt to bite you. Sit next to a bishop and he is apt to teach you something. This ESV breed of preachers isn't apt to teach you anything unless it's about downgrading the
King James Bible.
Paul told Timothy to be patient. Our ESV (with a super groovy Paul) told Timothy to patiently endure evil, and patiently these men endure the worldly lifestyles of their people, the multitude of doctrines, and the endless tampering with the word of God. What really emasculates those men is the next phrase, correcting his opponents with gentleness.
The word of God says, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. Two men in our bible are called meek. Jesus Christ said, for I am meek and lowly in heart, Matthew 11:29. Moses is described as being the meekest man on earth, (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.), Numbers 12:3. Never mistake meekness for weakness. Neither man was weak. What distinguished them is that they were meek, they were non-defensive when they were attacked personally. Meekness is the opposite of defensiveness. I have written of that (here) and (here).
A man of God who determines not to strive (as in personal warfare), but to be meek as he confronts the errant person, will inevitably endure personal attack. Often his character is besmirched, old wounds are reopened, his conduct over time will be reinterpreted in the most evil light possible, and people will be corralled into disliking him. True meekness will trust God in those times.
Only strong men dare to trust God at such times. All too many whimper and get defensive. They get as busy as their opponent in lining up defenders. In order to have any chance that God peradventure (maybe he will, and maybe he won't) grant the offender repentance, the man of God must be willing to take the abuse.
(I have a friend who worked as a police officer for many years. He was fearless in chasing criminals and wrestling them to the ground when needed. The only real beating he ever took is when he had to restrain a mentally retarded man who had escaped a dormitory. He refused to do anything that would hurt that man. As he patiently worked to restrain that frightened and angry man. The man tore my friend's rotor cuff and inflicted many wounds as my friend patiently worked to restrain him without hurting him. Without any doubt, that was my friend's most manly hour as a policeman.)
A man of God must use meekness when instructing a person who is wrong. He must realize that the person isn't opposing him, nor is he opposing God. He is opposing himself. His errant doctrine or his errant ways will destroy him and his family. It will make him complicit in leading others astray. Eventually, when the smoke has cleared, God will defend the true man who stood and absorbed the villainous accusations that pour forth at such times.
Part of the reason that hell has had its way with in the English-Speaking world is that the new versions have emasculated preachers. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted, Galatians 6:1. Without meekness a man of God will fall into snares.
If a man in a mud pit chooses to throw mud at you in an unprovoked attack, if you choose to wrestle him, all that a passerby will see is two idiots wrestling in the mud. A true and wise man will stay out of the mud pit. With meekness he will instruct that man or woman trapped in their own thinking. He will trust God to defend him and hope that God will grant repentance to whomever needs it.
A man using an ESV will never get the instruction necessary to be the man of God he should be.