‘Be a man, do the right thing, …… buy this handbag for your wife.’ So says the salesman who is trying to talk the hapless window shopper into buying his merchandise. I had a good laugh when my wife, Georgina, shared that video with me some time ago.
It seemed so foolish and unreasonable to determine the measure of a man by the buying, (or not buying), of a gift of a hand carry purse for his loved one. Feeling cheeky, I do wonder how that same line of persuasion can be turned to apply to our womenfolk in church this morning. Maybe you can let me know during lunch later. The men can discuss this during the ‘Men’s Fellowship’ later this month. Here, in this Praiselines, I will use the word ‘man’ for mankind, which includes both our brothers and sisters.
I assume we are somewhat agreed that the buying of a handbag cannot be the ultimate proof that this creature, man, is behaving as he is designed for, i.e., made in the image of, or resembling, God, as mentioned in Genesis 1:27.
We all yearn desperately to know the answer to this question of what it is to be a man. Failing to find it, we fall into despair and self-destruction. In describing this yearning, we find, in Scripture, the Psalmist saying in Psalm 42:1 (NKJV)
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, O God.
In expressing his own need, Christian theologian and philosopher, Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD), in his Confessions, wrote:
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
Closer to our times, the 20th century Irish writer, Oxford and Cambridge Universities don, lay theologian and Christian apologist, Clive Staple Lewis (better known as C. S. Lewis) wrote, describing this yearning:
‘I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world’.
So, what has that deep yearning got to do with the buying of a handbag and being a real man?
Well, it has to do, firstly, with being aware and recognizing that there is such as a yearning within man, which is a most natural phenomenon, if we go by what the psalmist, Augustine of Hippo, and C. S. Lewis all point out to us. Then, we proceed toward gaining an understanding of what this right thing is. Here, at Living Praise, we hold to the dictum of sola scriptura, or ‘the only source and norm of all Christian knowledge is the Holy Scripture’. This must then be the most crucial step to being the man we are meant to be. Missteps here lead to disaster.
Church history has shown us that masses have been moved to commit atrocities, fueled by poor understanding and faulty misinterpretation of Scriptures, to commit under the banner of religious fervor, even under the blessed name of our Lord. Remember that, He ‘came not to steal, kill and destroy, but that we may have life more abundantly’ (John 10:10, ESV). In place of obeying the command to love, to act charitably, with humble servitude, displaying relentless industry and inventiveness (working as unto the Lord – Ephesians 6:7), self-sacrifice and great heroism, we experience the results of destroyed relationships and division through dissociation, rejection, marginalizing and exclusion, un-forgiveness, quarreling, fighting, petty conquests.
What is the Christian ideology, or, that set of beliefs, ideas, ideals, ethics, principles, creed, faith, teaching, doctrines, and philosophy that we are to live by? We all individually have one, even if we do not often reflect on it. How did you come to your own ideology? More importantly, does what you are already living by help you to glorify God and begin to enjoy Jesus Christ more fully and into the forever future?
Even reading the Bible is not sufficient protection, as using Scripture does not equate to being biblical. Hence, we pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our reading to understand Scripture. Recall how the devil tempted our Lord by quoting Scriptures in Matthew 4. So, how do I overcome such a great task?
I find comfort in the verse below in the quest to do the right thing by God:
‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of the law’ – Deuteronomy 29:29.
Let us encourage each other to begin the task of being a man and doing the right thing by knowing our Scripture well, with the help of the Spirit. And going from there, to being more and more biblical each day in our worldview. Then, perhaps, we can then decide on things such as whether it is right to buy that handbag for your wife.