Shelby G. Floyd
Recently I read a very interesting little book entitled, “Be A Man, Son.” It’s the story about K. T. Moser, who became a student at Harding College. Before he entered Harding College to study for the ministry, he was a conscientious objector. And he was so classified by the Selective Service. But, later when he went to Harding College, he sent a notice in to revise his standing with the Selective Service from a conscientious objector, I think, to a ministerial classification. In some way they got it mixed up, and his classification came back as 1-A.
Well, of course, this was about the time of the Korean conflict—it was back in the 50’s. It wasn’t long until he was notified by Uncle Sam to come and take his physical, and, of course, he was in a classification to be drafted into the Army. Well, they drafted him, and he refused to take the oath, and so several months went by, he was arrested by the FBI and they had his trial. And in spite of all his friends from the college and his family and others who had known him, he was sent to prison down in Seagoville, Texas, where he had to spend a year and a half in prison because he was found guilty of evading the draft. It’s a real touching story, and he wrote most of it from prison, and he told what it’s like to be torn away from your family—his father and his mother. He hadn’t been married too long, and so he was separated from his wife. It was a very touching story, but the thing that stood out in the book, to me, and, of course, that was the title of the book—the last thing that his father said to him before they took him off to prison was, “Be a man, son!” And that’s what I want to use for our lesson.
PROVE YOURSELF A MAN!
Our topic is “Prove Yourself a Man.” In 1 Kings chapter 2, verses 1 and 2, we have these words from David:
“Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man.”
You know, it’s noteworthy that the last thing David said to his son, Solomon, before he died was: “…Be strong, therefore and prove yourself a man.” That is what we need in the church today.
Too long, Christian husbands and fathers have not shown themselves to be a man—a real man in the Bible sense of that term. So much today is written in the books and in the movies and in the television dramas that portrays the husband as a blundering idiot. Or else he’s portrayed as a weakling that will not be the man of his house and of his home. And I fear that too many husbands and fathers, even in the church, have been caught up with this idea that we are not the kind of men that we ought to be. The Bible pictures God’s people as being the kind of people that God wants them to be and God wants the man of the house—the Christian husband and the Christian father to show himself to be a real man.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and verse11, Paul said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” We know the case has been that too often Christian fathers and Christian husbands have not put away their childish things and they have not grown up to be men.
In 1 Corinthians 14 and verse 20, Paul said, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” Notice that in understanding, he said, don’t be children. But when it comes to malice, he said, be like little children, because little children don’t hold malice in their hearts. But he says, in understanding, be men—or be full-grown and mature.
In Proverbs 19 verse 22, Solomon said, “The desire of a man is his kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar.” That doesn’t mean to be a man that you’ve got to be harsh or cruel. Solomon says that to be kind is to show you to be a man. Some of the kindest people I’ve ever known have been men that were real strong and showed themselves to be men.
Well, the man of the house, according to the Bible, must show himself to be a faithful and a loving husband. In Ephesians 5 verses 22 and 23, Paul talks about the relationship of the husband and the wife. And then he compares that to the relationship of Christ and the church,
A MAN PROVES HIMSELF TO BE A FAITHFUL AND LOVING HUSBAND
His Love Is Sacrificial
The first thing we notice is that a husband is to show himself to be the man of the house as a faithful and loving husband, and he must have love that is sacrificial in nature. Paul said, “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” Christ sacrificed himself on Calvary for the church, which shows how much he loved the church, even to the sacrifice of his own self. A Christian husband, then, must be willing to sacrifice himself in his love and his devotion to his family and to his wife. And some husbands, even in the church, are not willing to do that. And they think that to be a man, you have to mistreat your wife, or to be harsh or cruel. But that’s not true. A Christian husband is one who shows himself to be a man in the fact that he’s willing to even sacrifice in his love for his family and for his wife.
His Love Is Purifying
A Christian husband must have a love for his wife that is a purifying love. I don’t know of any wife that could have a better husband than a husband who would elevate her morally and spiritually. Isn’t it terrible to think that some wives have got husbands that will drag them down morally and spiritually? The Christian wife who’s married to a husband who has a purifying love that will lift her up spiritually, emotionally and mentally, and morally is really blessed. Because the Bible says that Christ loved the church so much that he sanctified it and cleansed it with the washing of water by the Word. Christ is the head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife. But Christ lifts the church up. He purifies it. He elevates it spiritually and morally. And so if a husband is going to show himself to be a man, he will have to take the lead in the home, morally and spiritually. And instead of his family lifting him up, he ought to be out here in the front lifting his family up and showing himself to be a man.
His Love Is Caring
The Christian husband, to prove himself to be a man, must have a love for his wife and his family that really cares for them. So Paul says, “No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but he nourished it and cherished it, even as Christ does the church.” And so, the husband that really loves his family is going to nourish and cherish that family, just like Christ, who loves the church, nourishes it and cherishes it, and builds it up spiritually. And so, a husband who will prove him to be a man will really care for his family, and he’ll not be ashamed to let others know that he cares for his wife and for his family.
His Love Is Unifying
In the next place, the Christian husband, in showing himself to be a man, has a love for his wife and his family that unites that family. Paul says that a man “will leave his father and his mother and shall be joined unto his wife, and the twain shall be one flesh.” He added, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” What is the mystery? The mystery is how that people can come from all different sorts of backgrounds and be united in the spiritual body of Christ in the bonds of peace. Paul says that is a great mystery and he uses that great mystery to demonstrate the unity of the husband and the wife being joined together. The husband leaves his father and his mother, the wife leaves her father and mother, and the two come together and they become as one flesh—which indicates the unity, the concord, and the harmony that is to be in the home. And many times there is not the harmony and the unity in the home because the Christian father and husband won’t show himself to be a man. There could be unity in the home if he would just show himself to be a man. But too many times he is like the joke we used to say, “Are you a man or a mouse?” And then we would reply, “Please pass the cheese,” and so, he remains a mouse in the family house instead of a man. And because of that, the home doesn’t have the unity in all of these other various aspects of showing him to be a man.
A MAN PROVES HIMSELF TO BE A FIRM AND LOVING FATHER
The man of the house—in the third place this evening, must be a firm and a loving father. Too many fathers have abdicated their position as head in the home and they have given it over to somebody else, either the wife or the children. And that is not God’s plan. God’s plan is for the man to be the moral and spiritual head of the family. And for a man to show he is a man he is going to have to assume his responsibility as a firm and loving father toward his children. In Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 4, Paul said, “fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Let us look at that word “Fathers.” He is not talking about somebody else; he addressed the fathers in the church who had children: “Fathers, provoke not your children…” The word “provoke” there means to irritate them, to anger them. And so, the father is not to irritate his children, or to anger them all the time, or to be so harsh and cruel so that he breaks the spirit of the child. Of course, the danger in our age seems to be in the other direction. Discipline is a word that’s not used very much, nor is it practiced very much. And so the danger seems to be, not so much from a father who’s too harsh and cruel, but rather to one who is too permissive. But still there are many cases where fathers just provoke the children to anger and they discourage them. Paul says, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” And so in the first place, to prove you are a real man as a Christian father, a father ought not to anger and provoke his children to wrath.
Bring Them Up
Well, if he is not to do that in the negative, what is he to do in the positive? “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up…” Now the words “bring them up” is a translation from a Greek word which involves the whole education of the person. It involves spiritual education. It involves moral training. It involves physical education. It is good to have teachers in school and in the church to work with the young people. But that is not their prime responsibility. Fathers and mothers must not abdicate their responsibility of their children and turn it over to somebody else to work with the young people. And I don’t believe the Bible teaches that. Whose responsibility is it for the bringing up of the children spiritually, morally, mentally and physically? Paul said “fathers,” he did not address somebody else. He said “fathers… bring them up.”
What does it mean to “bring them up?” From the time they are brought into this world, the father has the main responsibility as the head of the home in the physical, the mental, moral, and spiritual development of his children. That is the reason that the fathers who attend this church here are to see to it that their children are here at Sunday school. They ought not to send them, but they ought to bring them and be a part of the Bible study when God’s people come together. Why? Because it’s the fathers’ responsibility to see that his children are being brought up right. And spiritual education or development is a part of that bringing up. Didn’t Solomon say, “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it?” And whose responsibility is it mainly to bring that child up in the way they should go? It’s the fathers. Now, many fathers in this are not showing themselves to be a man. They are not taking the lead in the spiritual and moral and mental development of their children. And if they grow up, they just grow up on their own. Is it any wonder that we have so much delinquency today, both in the area of parents and children! It is because fathers have abdicated their position as the moral and spiritual head of the family and their children are not being brought up, but they’re just getting by the best way that they can.
Now, notice he says, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” Secondly, “but bring them up.” How are you to bring them up?—in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.” The word “nurture” there and “admonition” simply means in the doctrine or the teaching of the Lord. So it is our responsibility fathers to see that our children know who the Lord is, and know what the church of Christ is. They need to know when the church was founded. They need to know how we become members of the church. The obligations of the members of the body of Christ are something else that must be understood. And many children today are grown up and they don’t even know that the church is the body of Christ. And that he only has one church. And so fathers are going to have to take a greater hand in the bringing up of the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
A REAL MAN PROVES HE HAS “DADDY DUTIES” TOWARD HIS CHILDREN!
1. Pity His Children
But, very briefly, let me give you just a few more duties and responsibilities that we have as fathers in the bringing up of our children. Number one: fathers have the responsibility to pity their children. In Psalms 103 and verse 13, David said, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” All of us know that children are not perfect, because as adults we are not perfect. Sometimes parents have such a high standard that they want their children to be perfect, because they think they ought to be. But I might ask what parent today is perfect? If we are not perfect, then our children are not going to be perfect, because we have come along farther than they have in moral, mental and spiritual development and so, they are going to make mistakes, they are going to do things wrong and a good father will show himself to be a man that is moved and he will be able to pity his children, or have compassion upon them when they make mistakes and go out of the way.
2. Corrects His Children
A good father who proves he is a man will correct his children when they do go and make mistakes. He prays for them, but yet he must correct them. And so Solomon said, “For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, even as a father the son in whom he delighted.” And so if a father delights in his son, he will correct him, just as the Lord corrects us when we as his children do wrong.
3. Disciplines His Children
In the next place, a father must take the lead in the home in disciplining his child. And to “chasten” means not only to correct, but it involves perhaps even corporal punishment. For Solomon said, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24). But it is encouraging to know that when a father does what Solomon says, he loves his child. He loves him, and if he loves him, he will discipline the child as many times as needed.
4. Trains His Children
So those are just a few of the duties that a Christian father has as the moral and spiritual head of his family. Well, what else does a father do in his role of fatherhood? The father must train the child. “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
5. Makes His Children Wise
Another duty that a father has is to make his children wise. Proverbs 27:11 says, “Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad that I may answer him that reproaches me.” Isn’t it wonderful when we can raise our children up and we can make them wise? Solomon said, “Foolishness is born in the heart of a child, but, the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” So as we use that rod of correction on the child, were going to drive the foolishness out of his heart, and we are going to make him wise. You know, there is nothing better than to see a father who raises his son and his daughter up to be wise children—wise in spiritual understanding, moral understanding, and how to live here on this earth. So, he says, fathers have the responsibility to make them wise.
6. Provides For His Children
And, finally, fathers have as their responsibility in the home, to provide for them the physical and material necessities. Paul said, “If any man will not provide for his own and especially those of his own household, he had denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” But, you know, the sad thing is that most fathers today do provide food, clothing and shelter and a lot of toys for their children, but that’s about where it stops. A lot of fathers, I think, don’t realize that they have responsibilities beyond just having some food in their mouths and a roof over their head and some clothes on their back. That’s important, but it’s much more important to clothe the spirit and the soul of a child than it is just his body. So those are just a few of the responsibilities that fathers have to prove they are a real man!
JEROBOAM IS A BAD EXAMPLE OF FATHERHOOD
Finally, I want to say a little bit about fathers who are not good examples to their children. You know, in the Bible we read of good fathers and we read of bad fathers. Do you remember when the kingdom divided in the kingdom of Israel? Jeroboam took 10 tribes and rebelled against the leadership of Rehoboam, who was the King and the rightful ruler of Israel. That left Rehoboam with just two tribes down in Judea. Jeroboam was a very wicked man, and most all the kings that followed Jeroboam and many of them for a while were his offspring, his children and his grandchildren, and the Bible says that he “followed in the footsteps of his father, Jeroboam the king of Israel who made Israel to sin.”
Now, fathers, your children—your sons and your daughters are looking up to you. I believe that sons largely look up to their fathers, and daughters look up to their mothers. And so you fathers, if you’re not living right, if you are not assuming you’re rightful leadership in the home and showing yourself to be a real man, look at those little sons that you’ve got coming along behind you, and those grandsons. Are you going to live in such a way that it will be said of you that your sons are following in your footsteps and you like Jeroboam are causing your children to sin? Are you living a life of sin? How could you live with your conscience, knowing that you have got children and grandchildren that are going to be following in your footsteps if you’re not leading in the way that they should go? I would be afraid to go to sleep tonight if I was a father and I was not setting the proper example for my children. Think about that as Christian fathers and as the leaders of your family and your home.
May I close with these words that I believe will impress upon all of us who are fathers the lesson that we have been trying to get over. It’s entitled,
A LITTLE FELLA FOLLOWS ME
A careful man I want to be,
A little fella follows me.
I do not dare to go a stray,
For fear he’ll go the selfsame way.
I cannot once an escape his eyes,
Whatever he sees me do he tries.
Like me, he says, he’s going to be.
That little chap who follows me.
He thinks that I am good and fine,
He believes in every word of mine.
The bad in me he must not see,
This little chap who follows me.
I must remember as I go,
Through summer sun and winter snow.
I am building for the years to be,
That little chap who follows me.
Fathers, that little chap that is following you is looking to you for the proper example and leadership. What kind of an example are you going to set for him? If you are not a Christian father this evening, it would be a wonderful time for you to obey the gospel, save your soul from the consequences of sin and embark upon the greatest life of all—the Christian life. And, in so doing, set a good example, not only for your children and your children’s children, but for your friends and your neighbors and for all who know you. What better work can anybody do on this earth but to bring up their children in the way they should go? And you can’t do that if you’re not a Christian father or mother.
Old Noah was a righteous man. He preached, it seems, for 120 years and nobody would pay any attention to him; but there’s one thing we can say about Noah—he showed himself to be a real man. He saved his family. How terrible it would be to save other people and bring them into the church, and lose our own families. That would be tragic. Noah did save his family. They listened to him—and if nobody listens to you but your family, your life has been a success. Why not confess faith in Christ, repent of sin and be immersed in water for forgiveness, even now? In whatever way you are subject to the gospel invitation why don’t you come right now as we all stand together and sing?*
*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon Sunday evening, March 24, 1991 at the South Central Church of Christ, 265 East Southport Road, Indianapolis, Indiana; and June 24, 2018 at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana. On June 24th I began my 58th year as a gospel preacher and my 19th year as a preacher and elder at the Heartland congregation. Copyright © 2010, 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved