1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.…
(To young men. 1 Kings 2:2, and text). Buckminster says that the sublimest thing in nature is true manhood. But long before Buckminster, Terence said, "I am a man, and I regard nothing pertaining to humanity as foreign to me." And long before him David said to his son and successor, "Show thyself a man." And long since then we find Paul saying, "Quit you like men, be strong"; "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." True manliness does not consist in —
I. THE STRENGTH AND SIZE OF THE HUMAN BODY. This is the barbarian idea of manhood.
II. INTELLECTUAL GREATNESS — which our Maker confers on very few persons in any age. We are not responsible for the lack of great talents, but only for the culture and use of what we have. True manliness lies in heart power and conscience power.
III. CHAFING UNDER WHOLESOME RESTRAINTS. It is no uncommon thing to find young persons who think an independent disregard of authority is manly, and when constrained by unavoidable circumstances to feel that the proper domain of their liberties has been invaded. This mistaken and unmanly feeling is apt to show itself, first of all, in opposition to parental authority. And the boy that frets under the restraints of home, will fret under the restraints of the school-room. And, having disregarded the wholesome restraints of home and of the school, he is now ready to disregard those of society; and it is no uncommon thing to see a young man, who commenced his unmanly course of disobedience in the family, graduating in prison. "Show yourself a man," then, in living in harmony with the Word of God, your conscience, and your environment.
IV. IMITATING, INDISCRIMINATELY, THE CONDUCT OR HABITS OF OTHERS. There are many great men who have their eccentricities and defects; and yet it is just these that younger and smaller men almost always imitate. Many of the admirers of Alexander the Great imitated his intemperance, and not his chastity and liberality; and many of the pupils of Plato imitated his crooked shoulders instead of his philosophy. "Show yourself a man," then, not by merely imitating, but emulating the virtues of others and by shunning their vices.
V. FOLLOWING POPULAR OPINION, RIGHT OR WRONG, OR ANY PARTY, RIGHT OR WRONG. Popular opinion is generally fickle and very often wrong. It imprisoned Galileo, and erected the guillotine in France. In the Southern States it raised the standard of rebellion. There is a great deal of blind leading, and "when the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." "Show yourself a man," by thinking and investigating for yourself. Study both sides of every important question.
VI. A RECKLESS DISREGARD OF THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS. It is not manly to say, "I don't care what others think of me." Every true man cares, and ought to care. While every true man maintains his own independence of character, he is ambitious, at the same time, to merit the golden opinions of the virtuous and the good. When a man enjoys the love and confidence of a virtuous woman he enjoys, next to the love of God, the noblest thing on earth. "Show yourself a man," then, by showing yourself worthy of such confidence and such love. Again, if you would have others respect you, you must respect yourself. If you would enjoy the friend. ship of your fellow-men, you must be a true friend to yourself. Often the worst enemy a young man has is himself. "Show yourself a man," then, by being true to yourself and to your principles.
VII. IT IS IN VAIN TO LOOK FOR TRUE MANLINESS WHERE THERE IS NO VIRTUE OR HONESTY OR HONOUR. The word virtue comes from "vir," which means a man; and to be virtuous, etymologically, is to be manly in the true sense; "an honest man is the noblest work of God." In the modern sense, virtue means manly purity as well as manly dignity.
1. Now, then, he that would be honest in the much must be honest in the little. A young aspirant for office arriving at the hotel where the governor was stopping, and seeing a man whom he supposed to be the porter, ordered him to take his trunk to his room. The supposed porter charged him twenty-five cents, which he paid with a marked silver quarter worth only twenty cents. The young office-seeker then said, "Here, porter, take my card to Governor Grimes' room and tell him I wish an interview with him at his earliest convenience." "I am Governor Grimes, sir." "Oh! I did not know you were ,Governor Grimes! I beg a thousand pardons!" "None needed," replied the governor. "I was rather favourably impressed with your letter, and had thought you well suited for the office you desire"; and holding up before him the defective quarter, he said: "Any man who would swindle a poor labourer out of the paltry sum of five cents would defraud the public treasury if he had the opportunity. Good evening, sir." Again, it is dishonest and unmanly to try to sell an article for more than it is worth, or to try to buy an article for less than its market value.
2. "Show yourself a man," too, by respecting your own rights and honour, even if others do not; and at the same time remember that others have rights which are entitled to respect. "Be courteous." St. Paul shows what should be the deportment of a true gentleman or a true lady in these few words: "In honour preferring one another."
3. "Show yourself a man," by your moral courage and stability of character. "Dare to do right, dare to be true." Dare to say No, when you are tempted to do wrong, or to go to a wrong place.
4. "Show yourself a man," by emulating the virtues of the great and the good.
5. And at the same time that you are developing and using aright your own manly resources, do not fail to recognise the real source of your success in life, to wit: the grace of God. The inspired apostle who says, "Quit you like men," also says, "Stand fast in the faith." And it is a fact that the great men of the world — the men whose names and whose deeds stand brightest on the scroll of fame, were men of faith in God. Conclusion: Diogenes is said to have gone through the streets of Athens, in broad daylight, with a lighted lantern in his hand, and when asked by a citizen for the object of his search, he replied, saying: "A man, sir, a man. I have found children in Sparta and women in Athens, but I have not found a man." Now, I grant that since man fell from his climax in Eden, a man, a perfect man, has not been found save in the humanity of Jesus. Do you want a model of true manhood? You have it in Him. He has won His title to our heart-faith and our .supreme regard by His God-like character. "Christ died for us." Then "show yourself a man," by showing yourself capable of appreciating such love as His; by giving Him your heart. Then and only then will you be in the line of your own true manhood.
(W. B. Stewart, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.