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A couple of months ago, I turned on our TV and discovered that WJAC had stopped carrying ME-TV! (My disappointment was immeasurable and my day was ruined.)
The “Memorable Entertainment Television” channel was one of our favorite channels on TV, because it was a channel you could watch without worrying that you were going to get smacked in the face with profanity, violence, nudity and things like that.
Some of the best shows ever produced— The Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H, Maverick, Wagon Train, Bonanza—and one of our all-time favorites, The Andy Griffith Show.
That’s a show that would never be made today.
Andy Taylor was an honest, kind, upstanding man of integrity and wisdom, who always knew how to handle a situation, and never gave in to spite or selfishness or hatred.
So, not the kind of TV character that television audiences in 2022 are interested in watching.
In fact, Mayberry, the town Andy watched over and cared for has become a word to describe people who are particularly gullible, naive or idealistic.
The kind of honor and virtue that was at the heart of The Andy Griffith Show is ridiculed and dismissed today.
We want our heroes to be “complicated” and rough and dark and flawed.
The honest patriotism and idealistic honor of Steve Rogers is played for laughs against the selfish dissipation and cynicism of Tony Stark.
And I want to submit to you this morning that this is not an inconsequential development in our culture.
A society that hates and fears masculinity is a society that will ridicule and demean the notion of virtue.
As it is defined in the Bible, virtue is
VIRTUE: Reflecting the EXCELLENCE of God’s CHARACTER in your LIFE
A virtuous man—a man who reflects the character of His God in honor and strength and industry and wisdom and steadfastness—is a man who is equipped to obey his high calling of exercising dominion in this world as God’s representative ruler.
To put it simply; if you are going to represent God’s rulership in this world, you must first represent His character in your life.
And so you can see why the evil patriarchies of this world hate the idea of virtue; it is attacked and torn down and debunked and erased wherever it is found.
In the memorable words of C.S. Lewis in The Abolition Of Man:
“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.
We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.
We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
Lewis, C. S. (2015).
The Abolition of Man (31705th ed.).
The spirit of this age hates virtue in men because a man of virtue is a man who is equipped to take dominion in this world.
And so this is how I want to say it this morning:
Cultivating godly VIRTUES equips a man for the DUTIES of taking DOMINION
Look with me at 2 Peter chapter 1 (p.
1018 in the pew Bible).
The Apostle Peter starts of his letter with a great encouragement to his readers that, through the divine power of Christ at work in them through their salvation, they have everything they need for life and godliness:
2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV)
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Brothers, as you consider the high calling of the duties for taking dominion that God has called you to, you begin with these great and precious promises.
See in verse 3 that God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, who has called you to His own glory and excellence (the word “excellence” is the same word translated virtue elsewhere in Scripture.)
God has called you to His own virtues—to image His excellencies in your own character.
You have escaped the corruption of this world’s destruction of masculinity, you are free in Christ from the penalty and power of your sin, and you have been given everything you need to image God’s rule on this earth through the gift of the masculine nature He has given you.
When you come in repentance to Jesus Christ for salvation from your sin by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He transforms you from clueless bastard to a man of honor and strength and wisdom, fully equipped for life and godliness.
And then Peter goes on in the very next verse to say that, since all of this is true in you, brother, that you can bend your strength to cultivating virtue:
2 Peter 1:5 (ESV)
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
I. "Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue...” (2 Peter 1:5)
When we look through the Scriptures, we see at least three masculine virtues, three “excellencies” that God commands.
(To be sure, He commands these virtues of men and women, but there are particular ways these virtues express themselves in men versus women.)
The foundational virtue of all is found in Proverbs 1:7:
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The Scriptures tell us that
A man of WISDOM grasps his WORLD when he FEARS God (Prov.
1:7; Ps. 119:99-100)
When you begin with obedient reverence for God and submission to Him in all things, you find that your world makes sense.
Wisdom to understand what is going on around you, wisdom to perceive the motivations and actions of people, wisdom to know how to react in a given situation is all grounded in that foundational fear of God and obedience to Him.
Psalm 119:99-100 says
Psalm 119:99–100 (ESV)
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
Brother, when you make God and His Word your meditation, when you determine to submit yourself to Him in everything and obey Him first and foremost, He will give you more understanding and more insight and more common sense than any Ph.D philosopher who refuses to acknowledge God.
God calls you to cultivate the virtue of wisdom—and He calls you to cultivate the virtue of workmanship—cultivate masculine productivity and usefulness.
This goes back to the very creation of man, when
Genesis 2:15 (ESV)
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Once again—see how the virtues men are called to reflect the character of God: He is a Creator, and so men are called to be creators.
God is a workman and craftsman, and so men are designed to be workers; to be productive and creative.
This shows us that
A man of WORKMANSHIP develops the TALENTS he receives from God (Gen.
2:15; Matt.
This is what we read earlier in our worship from Matthew 25—the master expected his servants to develop the resources he had given them.
They weren’t meant to just sit on them (or bury them in the ground); they were expected to make something of them.
Brother, God has given you a nature to work.
To be a productive member of society; to develop and hone your skills in creating and building and ordering.
God calls you to cultivate the virtue of workmanship in your life.
The third virtue we can identify is one we saw a couple of weeks ago; it’s worth revisiting again:
1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
God is a God of strength:
Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Samuel 22:33 (ESV)
33 This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.
God is a God of strength, and so He has created men to be strong, to develop the virtue of strength.
This is reflected in the physical realm; men have more muscle mass, more bone density, more height and weight than women.
But there is a particular virtue of strength that God has designed men to cultivate:
A man of STRENGTH can WORK while bearing WEIGHT (1 Cor.
16:13; Josh.
1:7; Haggai 2:4)
In the book of Joshua, as God is commissioning Joshua to move into Canaan to conquer the Land in the Name of YHWH, God says to him
Joshua 1:7 (ESV)
7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.
Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
Centuries later in Israel’s history, when Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the priest were tasked with rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, God called specifically on the virtue of their strength as they carried out the task:
Haggai 2:4 (ESV)
4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord.
Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord.
Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts,
Masculine strength is the virtue that enables a man to work hard and long, bearing up under the weight of hardship or adversity or opposition.
It is the glory of a man to cultivate these virtues—to supplement the faith that you have in Jesus Christ with the virtues of wisdom, workmanship and strength.
The Scriptures command and commend these virtues to men to exercise in a particular way.
Cultivating godly virtues equips a man for his duties of taking dominion in this world as God’s representative.
In 2 Peter, the Apostle promises his readers that cultivating those godly virtues in their lives will make them effective in their work:
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