November 21, 2017

Two Problems Men Face

Thomas Overmiller

My Bible uses the word man to refer to people in general, as in “mankind.” But when the Bible speaks about people who are men, the masculine gender specifically – I find the word man used for that as well. So when I read my English Bible, I am not always sure whether a particular use of the word man means “people in general” or an actual man. From recent study in James 1, I have noticed two occasions where the word man refers to an actual man in particular and not people in general. On both of these occasions, James speaks directly to the men in his audience. If you are a man, will you pause for a moment to consider what he is saying to you?

The Problem of an Angry Man

Does any person have the potential to express anger? Yes, without a doubt. But let me ask you a more specific question – do men in particular have the tendency to express anger? Yes. And that is what James appears to highlight in this statement.

For the wrath of [a] man worketh not the righteousness of God (Jam. 1:20).

When a man responds to other people in his life with anger, this angry response does not produce positive, spiritual, godly change. In fact, it tends to produce the very opposite. Husbands who respond to their wives in anger may condition their wives to adjust their behavior to prevent future outbursts from their husbands. But don’t misinterpret this acquiescence as spiritual growth. When a father reacts in anger to his children, his children may learn to avoid saying and doing things that provoke his anger towards them. But don’t mistake this compliance with true spiritual transformation.

The wrath of a man tends to motivate people around him to suppress their damaged feelings. But lingering, festering hurt and bitterness lingers and festers in the hearts of people who live with angry men. So James sounds the alarm. Men, start listening to the people in your life; stop interrupting them, and above all – stop reacting in anger (Jam. 1:19). You may feel like you have things under control, but the truth will come out with time, and it will be heartbreaking. A man who listens more and reacts less will be a man who nurtures and encourages genuine spiritual growth in the lives of those they lead.

The Problem of a Passive Man

A passive man is a man who sees the needs but does not meet them. He is a man with the responsibility to lead but does not take responsibility. He is a man to takes in information around him but refuses to take appropriate action. Do men and ladies, boys and girls alike have the potential to approach life passively? Yes. But do adult men have this problem in a particular way? Definitely yes. Here’s how James describes it. (Remember, the word man in this verse refers to an adult man in particular.)

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was (Jam. 1:23-24).

The illustration James uses here is somewhat amusing. He tells us that an adult man tends to take what he sees in the mirror less seriously than other people, especially women. He is more likely to head out into the day without making changes to his personal deportment and appearance based upon the things he saw in the bathroom mirror. By using this illustration, James highlights the tendency of adult men to be passive. He draws attention to the propensity in adult men to withdraw from situations that require our attention, intervention, and leadership.

So if you are an adult man, what should you make of these observations from James 1? Step back and ask the Lord to reveal to you any observable tendencies that you have to express anger in your relationships and to withdraw from situations that are requiring your careful attention and intervention. God will not withhold His perspective from you. And He will lavishly provide the wisdom you need to put away your angry responses and to properly get involved in situations that are requiring your attention. Be the man that God made you to be.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (Jam. 1:5).

Thomas Overmiller serves as pastor for Faith Baptist Church in Corona, NY and blogs at Shepherd Thoughts. This article first appeared at Shepherd Thoughts and is used with permission.


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