1 John 2:12-14 (NKJV)
12 I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.
What is it that separates the men from the boys? This is the question my Omnibus IV students recently had to consider. And their consideration of that question prompted me to return to my series of exhortations on the lessons which we learn from the different groups of people in the church – infants, children, young men, young women, and now men – not young men, not older men, but just plain men – so what is it that separates the men from the boys?
We realize at the outset, of course, that in some senses this is no longer a question of simple age. Many boys become men when in their teens. And many “grown-up” men continue to be boys when they should have left boyhood behind long ago. Manhood is more a matter of character than it is a biological state. So the words we speak will help us identify what it means to be a man and the lessons men can teach the body of Christ.
Among the answers that the students gave there were a few that repeatedly appeared. The first was stability. Men are stable. Having left behind the rashness of youth; frequently having assumed the responsibility for a family; men are called upon to be a rock of steadiness in a stormy sea.
Steadiness is the subject of John’s commendation in our text today. Note that John writes to three distinct groups in the congregation – little children, young men, and fathers. He gives two exhortations to each of these groups. While his exhortations to little children and to young men vary each time, his exhortations to the fathers are identical both times. “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.” The consistency of the exhortation reveals that John too saw the men in the congregation as the source of stability and strength for the congregation.
What is it that has troubled Christendom in the West for over a hundred years? Is it not the absence of men? And so, lacking a clear sense of spiritual stability and identity, each new generation has pined for some new fad, some new experience, some new source of strength. This same thing has been happening in our families. While mom typically provides the warmth and color for the home, dad provides a clear sense of stability and identity. Dad identifies, “This is who we are. This is what it means to be a member of this family.” But just as men have been absent from church, dads have been AWOL from the family.
So what is it that enables a man to be stable? Here we must note what John writes. “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.” The source of a man’s stability is not to lie in anything in himself; it is not to lie in his “macho-ness”; it is not to lie in his personal strength – for all these things can change in a moment. Rather, the source of a man’s stability lies in God Himself – the One who is truly stable, who does not change, shift, or move – and it is for this reason that men are privileged to share the name father with the First Person of the Godhead.
So, brothers and sisters, are we learning from the men in our midst the importance of entrusting ourselves whole and entire to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father who is our Rock, our Fortress, the One who grants stability to our lives in the most trying times? Have we learned from them to have a clear sense of center, a clear sense of identity that is rooted in Christ Himself and that does not change when trials come. I am a Christian. I am a servant of Jesus. This will never change. I fear that we have neglected to learn this lesson. How often we are unstable, unsure, and driven about by the wind and the waves. So let us kneel and let us confess our sin to the Lord.