Walk Like a Man

In April of 1899, in Chicago, Illinois, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech titled “The Strenuous Life” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/tr-strenuous/). He started with:

“In speaking to you…I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor gold strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”

In about 5,000 words, this San Juan hero, this Golden Gloved champion, this fearless American, President Teddy Roosevelt told his audience what it means to be not only a great American, but what it is to walk like a man among men.

All through history, some individuals were proud to be real men and didn’t want others to see them as anything less. If you insulted their integrity, you might have lost your life in the ensuing duel. (President Andrew Jackson participated in 103 duels but killed only one man.) Please understand that I am NOT suggesting dueling, fighting, or killing. I’m talking about being a mature person. About standing up for what’s right. About not backing backing down from truth.

Let me share with you some of the character traits of a real man. And for you women listening in, this applies to you, too. I am not speaking about gender, but about integrity.

The Book of James in the New Testament is our source. It has only five chapters so read it when you can. When I use the word “child”, I mean an immature person no matter how old he or she actually is, and the word “man” refers to a mature person no matter how young he or she may be.

 The following are but a few of the concepts found in James.

A child quarrels, argues and demands his own way, but a mature man will listen first, attempt to reason with others, and ultimately do what is right.

A child will try to avoid his responsibilities, but a man will readily do what is required of him no matter the hardship.

A child lies easily, but a man will tell the truth no matter the consequences.

A child talks incessantly, but a man will show respect and listen to others.

A child will say whatever will make him look good, but a man talks to benefit others.

A child is self-centered, but a man puts the needs of others ahead of his own desires.

A child slanders others, but a man will defend others while adhering to the truth.

A child ignores or denies God, but a man lives by Godly principles.

A child lives to please himself, but a man lives to honor God.

In all of that, I am not implying sinless perfection; instead, I am talking about a definite desire to live a life that is above reproach, is mature, and which honors himself, others, and God. A person in San Diego recently said, “I can’t live that way because of my past. I have lived a bad life.”

I told him, “You must put aside your self-centeredness, and stop using your past as an excuse. Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. And that means with the help of the Holy Spirit, you must change the way you think. God will help you change but you must purposely cooperate with God.”

If we live a life of honor to please God, we will bless those around us and we will receive that “ultimate triumph” Teddy Roosevelt mentioned above.

The president concluded with: “If we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.”

Friends, let’s walk like men, and serve the Lord our God.

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