Before I continue my series on true manliness as found in our Lord Jesus Christ, I need to present to you pertinent information concerning my health, which many of you have written me about and are praying for me. First off, I want to thank all of you who have written to me encouraging me and helping to keep my eyes focused not on the disease, but on the glory of God. On February 7, I went to see my kidney doctor, and he presented some disturbing news. The damage that has been done to my kidneys due to diabetes and protein excesses is now irreversible. That hit me like the proverbial load of bricks.
However, all is not sadness and sorrow. What function I have left can be regulated through a medicinal regimen. I am being put on blood pressure medications and was told to lose weight. I am being weaned off of one of my anti-depressants as a way of getting the weight off along with exercise. I have a long life ahead of me, and I plan to use that time to write about the glory of God as well as preach in churches and areas of influence as He sees fit. In all things, God is good.
Now let’s get back to the centerpiece of my thesis. I want to focus on a family member of our LORD who predated Him in ministry and influence, namely John the Baptist. John’s ministry is mentioned in Matthew 3:1-17, 11:1-14; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:1-22, and John 1:6-23, 3:22-36. In these passages we learn of a man who is sold out for the LORD and is also humble enough to know that his work is brief but meaningful. In all of the verses that speak about John, he never points to himself as what it means to be a godly man. His work and words are the witness we read about and admire.
What are some traits of the Baptist from which we can glean?
First of all, he was a man who was called to holy service before he was born. God had his life planned out from the beginning. The prophet Jeremiah was just such a man (Jeremiah 1:5-8). God has men who are not afraid to proclaim the truth in spite of worldly opposition. They are men of character and reliability. They were not self-ordained like a lot of “ministers” are today. God has entrusted them with a mission to present holiness and righteousness before a people and nation. John was that kind of man, fearing no one except God. He did not consult polls to see what people wanted to hear. He never tickled ears or presented flattering words.
Men today are afraid of what people might think of them if they speak out for God. They possess no spiritual backbone and are browbeaten by friends and relatives who are embarrassed by holy behavior. They don’t think God is big enough to see them through the rough spots. John was a man’s man crying out in the wilderness for people to repent, living off the land and rough around the edges.
Second, John was not afraid of public opinion and spoke out about religious hypocrisy which had plagued the Jewish faith for centuries. He was a true preacher of righteousness; and because he was certain of his message, people flocked to hear him. He was a breath of fresh air in a spiritually dead atmosphere. His preaching cut to the heart and was proclaimed for a decision to obey God or to go on with a religious game that would end in eternal failure.
What about today’s preaching?
It is a cacophony of self-help, self-esteem, feel-good, greedy, manipulative twisting of Scripture to portray God as someone who will give you all that you ask for, regardless of how you live your life. Preaching today does not convict of sin or bring about genuine repentance. It is weak in the Bible but strong in relativistic thought and practice. The Scriptures have given way to pop psychology and weak delivery of absolute standards.
Whatever happened to holiness and living separated from the world’s ways and thoughts? Do we possess the truth of salvation in Christ alone or have we given way to fads and trends? Preachers, WAKE UP! The world is heading to hell, and you and your flock have the answers to this sin-sick world found only in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be men of courage and PREACH THE WORD (2 Timothy 4:1-5)!
Third, John was humble enough to know that he would soon give way to someone more important than him. His job was to introduce the Lord Jesus to the world and baptize him as an example of obedience to God. Humility does not mean having people walk all over you, but to bask in the knowledge that you have a part to play in God’s great plan of salvation. The greatest machines need the littlest cogs to operate smoothly. John never sought the spotlight. He was an unsung hero of the Bible, there for a moment and then stepping aside so that his cousin could save the elect of God.
A true man does not boast or brag about accomplishments that are relevant today and forgotten tomorrow. Service to God is measured in terms of eternal significance, not might. The lady who cleans floors unto the LORD just might get a bigger crown than someone who thinks that God has to rely on him in order to get anything done.
If you’re a preacher who loves God and faithfully preaches the Word in a small, out of the way church, be certain that the LORD sees you and will reward you for not how big the church is, but how you were a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. My pastorates, for example, were in churches where the average attendance was thirty or less. It’s not the numbers that count, but wholehearted devotion to Christ that makes the difference.
Fourth, John knew that his time was short and made every effort to proclaim Christ while he was free. He got thrown in prison by Herod Antipas because of his preaching against the incestuous relationship between Herod and his new wife who was actually his niece. Just know that good endings to a service dedicated to God may not come in this life. We’re not to look at men for approval, but to God.
A real man knows when it is time to put his house in order and to prepare to meet God. Dying well, content in the fact that the LORD has placed His blessing and call upon a godly man, is the best reward anyone could hope to have. Real men love Jesus and provide for the outcome when life comes to a conclusion. Many godly men have given up their lives for the sake of the call, wondering if they made a difference. We can rest assured that what service we bring to God will reap a harvest of souls and a rewarding outcome in the next life.
We must be faithful in the job to which God has called us and to never falter in our trust of Him.