There is some kind of superhuman strength that men get at the moment they have their first child. I don’t exactly understand why but somehow dad’s have something I have always thought of as “old man strength.” When I was a kid, no matter how fast I got or how many weights I lifted it always seemed like my dad was still slightly faster and slightly stronger. I could have beat him in the bench press or in number of pounds lifted but he just had this practical strength that I never could quite match.
I think I have finally figured out how men acquire this strength. It is called home ownership. Owning a home really gives you a work out. There are so many things to take care of and things that have to get done. So now instead of letting those things stress me out, I see it as developing my “old man strength,” so that someday when I have children of my own they will also be able to learn about and appreciate “old man strength” too.
That got me thinking about spiritual strength. There is an expectation that we will exercise our spiritual muscles and grow strong in our faith. 1 Timothy 4:8 – “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Cor 16:13-14 – “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. “Do everything in love.”
There is also an expectation that we will have a diet that matures as we grow. Peter talks about beginnning our faith like newborn babies, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” 1 Peter 2:1-3. Milk is the perfect food for infants but imagine how unhealthy it would be if that is all you ate your entire life! We eventually grow into other types of food as we mature. The Hebrew writer talks about this in Hebrews 5:13-14 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Once we have been Christians for a while there is an expectation that we will mature. Our prayers will no longer be, “now I lay me” or “guide, guard, and direct us.” They will change as our relationship with God changes. We don’t tell our loved ones the same thing every time we see them and the same is true with God. We will no longer only read our favorite verses. We will start reading more of what God has to say to us and begin digesting more difficult things. We will no longer see people like we used to. Something happens to our eyes as we mature and we begin to see people as Christ sees them (2 Cor 5:16). Christ didn’t look down on people so how can we? When we are mature life will be different. We are either maturing or stagnating and the call is pretty clear which one God desires. So let’s exercise our spiritual muscles and mature in our faith. Let’s develop some “old man strength” in our faith that comes from years of practical use doing things that make a difference.
Over the years, we learn that spiritual strength is a lot like physical strength –without daily effort we lose it and if there must be some resistance (I think God calls it refining) in order to develop.
Good thoughts, Matt