In the movie, Braveheart, William Wallace is the manly man a lot of us would probably like to be. The girl he loves is brutally killed. So what does he do? First, he avenges her blood by taking out the guy who murdered her. Second, he rises up against the empire and teaches others how to fight. And finally, he gives his life and dies for the cause. He wasn’t a marine, but that deserves an “Ooh-rah!”
The apostle John had those same three points (okay, with slight variations) in mind about 1100 years earlier when he wrote 1 John 2:12-14. Know the truth. Fight for the truth. Teach the truth.
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. ~1 John 2:12-14
Before you skip over the “little children” and “fathers” parts, understand that these are spiritual maturity levels, not physical life stages or ages. I am certain that little children, young men, and fathers are reading this–and may all be similar ages (or the opposite of what we’d think). The three categories are a progression, and nothing holds us back from pursuing the next one.
But what’s the difference between them? Just like in life, when we come to Christ, we start as children. We learn the truth–Jesus came, lived perfectly, died for our sins when we couldn’t, rose from the dead, and represents those who trust in Him before God the Father. Do you know that? If so, that’s awesome! Now it’s time for children to grow up.
Young men are strong and they overcome the devil. Paul encourages them to be “good soldiers” and run hard like Olympic athletes (2 Timothy 2:3-5). What beats Satan and evil? From Ephesians 6, we see that it is faith, truth, righteousness, the gospel, and the word of God. Have you learned how to wield your sword (the Bible)? How’s your faith? Are your knees well worn from time spent talking & listening to God (prayer)? Mine aren’t worn enough…
Finally, fathers. You’ve fought for years and are an expert swordsman. As you look around, you realize there are a lot of new soldiers and kids with less experience and knowledge than you. Have you started teaching them yet? Sure, there are commanders (pastors) and men older and even more experienced that you are, but that doesn’t exempt you. Step up, men! Think of it as spiritual war college with training in tactics, discipline and passion to conquer evil and please our Commander In Chief (Christ). It’s good stuff! Are you in it? Are you doing it?
I’ll wrap up with some words that puritans wrote some 400ish years ago. A great reminder that we aren’t fighting alone. Our God leads the charge…
O Lord God,
Thou art my protecting arm, fortress, refuge, shield, buckler.
Fight for me and my foes must flee;
Uphold me and I cannot fall;
Strengthen me and I stand unmoved, unmoveable;
Equip me and I shall receive no wound;
Stand by me and Satan will depart;
Anoint my lips with a song of salvation and I shall shout thy victory…
~The Valley of Vision (Conflict)
Men, we are men.