As I view what it means to be a man through the lens of this instruction from Paul to Timothy, I am reminded again of the holy activity of true masculinity (and true personhood, generally). Flee, pursue, fight, take hold. Paul is nothing if not verby. I am struck, though, by how often I fail at these things. I am busy about things that so often don’t matter and passive about things that do. I am lazy. I can’t be bothered. And when I look for where I ought to get the oomph of holy pursuit from, I see Paul couching the masculine imperatives in the masculine indicative: “O man of God.” If this is what I am, this is what I can do. Furthermore, I see the importance of “taking hold of the eternal life to which I was called” for the other actions.
If biblical manhood is about denying excuses and taking responsibility — and I think it is — I begin to think of all the excuses the God-Man could have made when it came to loving and saving me. He could have shaken his head and cataloged my list of deep unworthinesses:
Father, he’s so lazy. He doesn’t deserve all this effort.
Father, he’s so unspiritual. He won’t even pick up the Word to read a few lines.
Father, he doesn’t treat his wife the way she ought to be treated.
Father, he’s not the kind of guy who could set the world on fire, is he?
Father, he’s so passive. He’s so timid. He’s such a coward
Father, he’s so prideful. He enjoys praise too much and he’s selfish.
Father, he’s short-tempered. He leaps to defend himself too much.
Father, he’s such a failure, a nobody, a loser. He’s a stuttering wimp, just like that girl in the 5th grade said he was. He is what he always feared his family thought he was. He doesn’t deserve a second glance like those bosses at his first job proved. He is what his critics say he is, worthy of scorn and derision and unworthy of forgiveness. He is what the Accuser says he is, only as good as what he has failed to do and deserving of eternal condemnation.
– Romans 8:1