Biblical Masculinity #3: Industry

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We are noting the importance of godly masculinity and lamenting the baleful effects of its lack.  In earlier posts, I highlighted the importance that a man fear the Lord and also have provided a definition of biblical masculinity.  Turning back to the Book of Proverbs, we find a number of male virtues that are stressed.  Prominent among them is industry.

One reason why industry is so important is that a man will normally be expected to provide for his family.  Proverbs 10:4 says, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”  From the beginning, God intended men to be hard workers who build and protect (see again Genesis 2:15). Many men falsely pursue success and glory through their work, and this is idolatry. But there is such a thing as godly ambition, and a man ought to desire to improve his family’s circumstances and to accomplish things in his work. Proverbs 12:27 says, “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.”

Much of the current evangelical teaching on marriage aims at rebuking the workaholic man.  To be sure, a man who is infatuated with success at work is not likely to be faithful in his other callings.  But let's not go too far!  Some Christian women are now prone to complain if their husband is ever late for dinner, and some Christian men have been trained to believe that they are sinning if they ever miss a little league game.  But the Bible stresses the importance of a man who is diligent in his work -- and this may mean a business trip or two!  When God said to Adam, "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread" (Gen. 3:19), that was not just a curse but also a promise!  Men have to work hard.  They have to train themselves in order to succeed and they should have a strong drive to accomplish things of significance.  To be a man is to work, and work hard.  Biblical men will aim to make a difference in the world and in the home.  They will show industry in raising children, fixing the house, and bringing home a paycheck.

The opposite of biblical industry is not just laziness.  I find that here in the affluent West many men are very industrious, but about the wrong things.  Their great passion in life is to get in four games of golf a week and lower their handicap, or to win the fantasy football league, or to qualify for the World Series of poker.  Now, recreation is good, and men with a passion for their work are likely to pour passion into their recreation as well.  But men are not to live for their play; a godly man pursues his life with a sense of calling, including his life in the church, in the home, and in the workplace.  For him, the prayer of Psalm 90 has real meaning:

Let your work be shown to your servants,
   and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
   and establish the work of our hands upon us;
   yes, establish the work of our hands! (Ps. 90:16-17).

Posted January 31, 2007 @ 8:56 AM by Rick Phillips

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