WHERE ARE THE MEN?
By Rodney W. Francis
In my travels around the world I continually notice in Christian meetings the shortage of MEN! While putting this article together, I spoke in a church I had not been to before, and could not help but notice the shortage of men in the meeting. So I counted up the adults - and the women outnumbered the men seven to one!
Men always seem to be in the minority. I remember a number of years ago reading the statistics of people on the mission fields of the world. It was a staggering sixteen women to every one man! This does not seem to be right, nor is it God’s will that more and more responsibility for the proclaiming of the Gospel should be upon the women (this in no way reflects upon the women – many are doing a marvellous work). But we do have to ask, “WHERE A RE THE MEN?”
Why do men seem to struggle more in making a total commitment to Jesus Christ than the women?
The answers will be many and varied. But the end result always seems to be a shortage of men to make themselves available to the service of the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ!
DAVID AND GOLIATH:
In 1 Samuel 17 we read of a classic case of a very young man being left to fulfil the responsibility of supposedly mature, trained men, when those same trained men ran away and hid because their lives were so fearful of the challenge before them. It is the well-known passage of Scripture that tells us of David and Goliath. In the story, a Philistine giant called Goliath steps forward and challenges the men of Israel to a fight – a one on one encounter – and the winner take all! That giant in his arrogance challenged the trained, fighting men of Israel to a duel. But in spite of their being trained and selected to fight in the mightiest army in the world, they were totally afraid of that giant, and would not accept the challenge. What made it worse was the fact they turned away, and ran and hid in the rocks and caves that were in the area. So Goliath taunted them day after day. Those men had been trained to be fighting men, to uphold and defend the nation of Israel against all her enemies. They had all the “outward” training and theories to get them selected as a soldier in the greatest army – yet they could not stand and deliver when the need demanded it! They cowered and ran away. Their hearts were dictated to by their fears, and so they were unable to fulfil their task for what they had been selected for. Their training did not adequately prepare them for what they were facing out there on the “front lines”! The whole nation was under siege because the men selected, chosen, and called to defend and protect it could not deliver the goods! In the heat of the challenge they wilted and withdrew.
Then, onto the scene came a young lad called David. He was a mere shepherd boy, but a young man with a heart for God, filled with the Spirit of God, a love for the people of God, and an ardent supporter of the army of God. David had three older brothers in that great army of Israel, and so from time to time he would deliver some food items to them on the battle lines. But what a shock he received on arriving there to cheer on his brothers in the battle, when he saw the way they responded to the challenge of Goliath. In dismay and disbelief he watched his brothers (and all the other soldiers) run away and hide from Goliath when he shouted out his challenge to them:
“Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together” (1 Samuel 17:8-10 ).
The fact that those soldiers were trained to fight did not even enter their heads. They were so mesmerized by this enemy that fear gripped their hearts, and they “melted like ice in the noonday sun” before him. The enemy of God gave a challenge to the nation of God, "Give me a man, that we may fight together" – and they could not respond in a positive way. Where were the men?
WHERE ARE THE MEN TODAY?
Where are the men today? We will never ever know the sweetness of true victory if we are not even prepared to accept the challenge of our enemy in a “winner take all” fight! If Jesus is not stronger than the enemy, then what on earth is our “believing in Jesus” doing to us? The Gospel has not been sent to turn us men into wimps!
Something stirred deeply in the heart of David, for he interpreted their actions as being a reproach upon the name of the Lord. He stepped forward boldly and fearlessly, and speaking in faith, and from experience (as young as he was), he said he would go and fight “this uncircumcised Philistine that defies the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:26 ). Then an amazing thing happened. Those men – who had been trained as men to fight and win, but would not face the challenge that Goliath gave them, they then turned on the boy with the courage of a man, to seek to humiliate him in front of his own people. David’s very own brothers scoffed at him and accused him of negligence, etc., and derided him for even suggesting that he would go and fight the giant. But David would not be deterred. (He was the real man – even though still looked upon as a boy. They were supposed to be real men – but they behaved like little boys!) David stood his ground, and soon word was taken to King Saul that there was someone willing to face Goliath. When Saul saw David, he also reacted against David’s age and youthfulness. He said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33 ). But David would not be put off, not even by the word of the king! He was disgusted at the way the supposedly best-trained men of Israel were defeated in themselves without even rising to the challenge of the enemy. He then testified to King Saul of the victories he had already won against the lion and the bear – and how David saw Goliath as another like the lion and the bear! His trust was in the Lord, and he had learned that God was much bigger than the enemy! So Saul gave in to him. But not before he tried to lumber David with his own armour – the very armour he, himself, was not prepared to go and fight Goliath in!
David answered the challenge. His eyes were not on the giant, nor was his ear tuned to his negative ravings and rantings. His faith was in God and in the simple sling and stone, which he had learned by experience to use very accurately. He came against Goliath in the name of the Lord, the same name every Christian should come against his enemy with. And, in the name of the Lord – despite the size, experience and seeming impossible circumstances visibly before him – David slew Goliath with a single stone shot to the head. He then cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword, and brought an outstanding victory to Israel. David demonstrated to us that one man and God are a majority when we stand in His name!
WHAT ABOUT US?
This Biblical account exposes some “home truths” to us. How often do we Christians have wonderful theories and belief systems (and can talk for hours about them) – but in the moment of battle, when they really need to be tested and proven to the glory of God – we are not even prepared to put them to the test? We are guilty of simply “reading the recipe” but not “producing the cake!” We also see here that it is possible to have the best of training and equipment that one needs for the army of the Lord, but unless the ones trained and “wearing the uniform” are prepared to accept the challenges the enemy brings against us, we will never know the true power of the God we serve to deliver us from all our foes. If we Christians are not convinced within ourselves that JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD are the greatest and most effective way of life for all humanity today, then our message and presentation will be weak and ineffective. And weak and ineffective messages do not produce MEN OF GOD!
This story teaches us it only takes one man – even a very young man – to conquer the enemy. He was not the “trained professional,” but one who had learned by experience to trust the Lord when the enemy arose against him. God will use those who are “usable” and “available” to stand up for Him!
The principles of 1 Samuel 17 are still very relevant today to every Christian believer. There are many giants “out there” and “all around us” who are challenging us. They are challenging us to demonstrate that what we say we have as the answers for this generation, that we can actually demonstrate effectively that this Gospel of Jesus Christ does work in a powerful and positive way. Giants are not influenced – nor driven back in defeat - by Christians who merely “talk the walk” instead of “walking the talk.” It takes real men of God to “walk the talk” and to drive the giants back in the name of Jesus Christ! Things have to change from men saying to God, “Here I am, Lord, send my sister!” to “Here I am, Lord, send ME!” (Isaiah 6 ).
Where are the men today? Somehow we Christian men must rethink our priorities. Life is not about becoming “successful” or “prosperous” and then, after that, we serve God – or, “Our task is to make money so others can do the work of the Gospel.” These all become weak excuses when we see the fruit of our “modern” Christianity seemingly not being able to produce real committed, dedicated men, “willing to lay down their lives” to demonstrate their love and obedience to the One who has “called us out of darkness to walk in His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ).
When men arise in the boldness and courage of the Living God, and are prepared to give all to Jesus Christ – to demonstrate their love and commitment to Jesus - then the world will see a demonstration of the power of God we have never seen before. When real men rise up, the whole Body of Christ will also rise to a higher level, for men will be so much freer to release others into their God-given potential!
Men, let us rise much higher! Higher than ever before! For there are many giants challenging us to demonstrate that what we have got is truly greater than anything they have to combat us.“Greater is He Who is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ).
“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren . . . Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:9-14 ).
Let us all make sure that we are not guilty of standing before the Lord with a saved soul – but a wasted life!
HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT THE WILL OF THE LORD TO BE DONE IN YOUR LIFE?
To do the will of God means we will have to step out of our “comfort zone” into something that is bigger than us. Our problem is often that we keep God too small in our thinking, and therefore in our corresponding faith actions. As you look to God for your future, will you be satisfied to only accomplish that which you have attained in the past, or with what you are presently involved with? Or, do you want to see what a BIG GOD can do in and through a life that is yielded to Him (Your life)?
Here is a prayer to pray:
“Disturb me, Lord, when my dreams come true, but only because I dreamed too small. Disturb me when I arrive safely, but only because I sailed too close to the shore. Disturb me when the things I have gained have caused me to lose my desire for more of You. Disturb me when I have acquired success, but then have lost my desire for ongoing excellence. Disturb me when I give up too soon and then settle too far short of the goals You have set for my life.” (Maybe we should also pray by inserting the word “forgive” in the place of “disturb”?)
Continually in life we are called upon to make decisions. Are we going to believe what God says to us more than what others – even our own mind and thoughts – try to dictate to us? At the end of the day, we really are what our believing is. We will rise no higher in life than to that for which we can personally believe. That’s why we need to believe what Jesus says; because He is always desiring to lift us to a higher realm of reality, and where we can see His provision in our lives as never before. If we can accomplish things only through our own efforts, then we do not need God. But we do! Yield to Him today! Know the truth of “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ).
May your future be as bright as the promises of God!