Paul’s Manhood

Paul's Manhood

Originally Posted by Mike Young September 2006

We often think of 1 Corinthians 13 as the “Love Chapter”. We hear it read in wedding ceremonies and other appropriate venues. But, the quotes normally end at verse 8 or sometimes skip verses 9-12 and go directly to verse 13 which says, And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. As I learn more about the challenges of ministering to men, verse 11, is becoming more important to me. In I Corinthians 13:11 Paul says this, When I was a child, I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

In November of 2004, at a NCMM (National Coalition of Men’s Ministries) conference, I first heard Robert Lewis dig into this verse. I was pretty excited about his comments. He posed a number of questions that he wished he could ask Paul:

  • How did you become a man?
  • How did you know when it happened? What was the marker?
  • What things from childhood did you put behind you?
  • How did it feel when you became a man?
  • Where or how can I learn more about this?

It’s pretty interesting that this passage only prompts these questions, but it doesn’t answer them. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to find answers for questions like these. Even more amazing is the fact that many men around us are looking for the answers, but don’t really even know what the questions are. The quest for answers to these questions becomes a dangerous game for many men. Without directions, parameters and wise counsel, they look in many dangerous places and find many wrong answers; often injuring themselves and others along the way.  Just open the newspaper or listen to a news broadcast. You’ll be bombarded by stories of guys who are trying to be men but really haven’t put childish speech, ways, or things behind them.

As I pondered these things, I thought, ‘Well if Paul knew what it meant to be a man, how did he live it out in his life? Are there some things about his life that would help me (and others) better understand how a man should live?’ So, I began to skim Paul’s letters and review verses I have underlined or highlighted over the years. Here’s a brief list of some of Paul’s admirable qualities. The list is by no means complete, there are many other qualities we could note, but I think it may give us an idea of Paul’s idea of manhood.

  • He conquered through Christ: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37
  • He was concerned about the salvation of others: Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1
  • He empowered others: I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Romans 15:14
  • He was concerned about the impact of his behavior on others: Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. I Corinthians 8:9
  • He was flexible in Ministry: I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings. I Corinthians 9:22-23
  • He identified with Christ in sufferings and sacrifice for others: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Let’s endeavor to incorporate some of these qualities into our lives as we seek to put childish things behind us? I think that no matter how old we are, we have to keep working on this aspect of manhood.