Male Validation

Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
- I CORINTHIANS 4:5

Peter’s statement that “a woman will be saved in childbirth” is confusing until the word saved is properly defined. As used in the Bible, a majority of the time the term refers to deliverance in the present. Nothing hinders daily victory and joy as much as selfishness. Experiencing childbirth, a woman’s self-life is given a severe blow as she devotes her own wellbeing to the good of another, her newborn child. This very loss of self-centeredness allows her to be more susceptible to daily victory in Christ. Peter’s statement is not meant to be a dig to women who have not given birth to children any more so than to men, who also have never experienced childbirth. He is pointing to a greater truth, which is that selfishness needs a deathblow in order for mankind to find life. Childbirth seems to validate a woman’s existence (not all women, but many) in the sense that once a woman is a mother, the course of her life is believed to be set, and she therefore has validation and purpose. Men do not have any such equal occurrence, and I find many who are still looking for purpose and validation. However, all of us seek for things that can only be found in the Lord.

I have collected several suicide notes from men over the years (more men successfully commit suicide than women). The notes are predictable and often carry the same theme: “I am sorry I did not amount to more”; “I should have done more with my life”; “I am a disappointment.” In short, they never found validation, a fulfilled purpose in living. Within the context of discipleship I often play a suicide game. I pretend I am the person sitting before me wanting to commit suicide, and the person must take the name of Suicide. I say, “Suicide, why do you want to kill me?”

The answer comes in various forms, but always with the same general thrust: “Because you are worthless, you have not accomplished anything with your life, and you have not lived up to your potential.”

I then respond, “Exactly what is my potential? How will I know if I have accomplished enough or lived well enough to fulfill my potential? Will it be when I have made a medical discovery, become popular, obtained my own television show, gained the praise of my family, or memorized the whole Bible? The problem is that I know of men who fall into all those categories of accomplishment and who have committed suicide, therefore proving your definition of validation faulty.” Something very depressing to many is when they have “made it” in the world’s sense and wake up in the morning being their same old selves. Validation from oneself, the world, or others is like taking a dry dishrag and wringing it for a full, thirst-satisfying glass of water. When man cannot find validation, he will live to the world, others, and self in an attempt to justify his existence on earth. I have not mentioned the things we do that actually, in our minds, do the opposite of validating us, such as the outbursts, the deeds of the flesh, the old habits that return, the failed marriages, and more. Men—even more than women—need to stop looking for validation in any place other than the Lord.

Naked you entered the world and naked you will leave. Frank Sinatra died and Las Vegas dimmed its lights for a short time. Wow! What a tribute. They then turned them back on full blaze and went on gambling. If the Lord validates you, you no longer must live to the world, yourself, or others. You will be free, free indeed.

He validates every man with a simple statement, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” That is enough. With that statement echoing in my heart, I am as happy sitting on a tractor turning up the grubs and watching the seagulls eat them as I am preaching before five thousand. I am as expectant in defeat as in victory. I am not watching myself obsessively, nor does the affirmation or rejection of the world or others change my day.

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