1 John 2:13-14 (NKJV)
…I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one… I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.
We have now finished our consideration of the lessons which children teach us. And so we begin to consider young men and young women – no longer grouped together as young people but distinguished and differentiated because God in His Providence uses this time in a young man’s life to notify him that that child he’s been playing with next door is different.
John writes to the young men in his audience for a very specific reason and highlights the strengths which young men possess. You young men out there have definite strengths, lessons to teach us as the people of God. Unfortunately, these very strengths expose you to certain temptations and weaknesses as well. And so let us consider what you teach us – both positively and, at times, negatively.
One of the first lessons that young men teach us is the glory of strength. Something happens when boys become young men. They start comparing muscle mass, challenging dad to feats of strength, working out to develop six packs and biceps. They challenge themselves and their friends with new and unsual tests. And these types of tests are not wrong but good and right. Pushing one another further, challenging one another, not being content with 10 pull ups but pushing for 20 – these traits are good. Solomon himself tells us that the “glory of young men is their strength.” God has given this strength to you young men and so ask God to use it to stretch yourself, to challenge yourself and your friends.
But John also encourages you to put this strength to work not only physically but spiritually. The Church stands in dire need of young men who are not content with the muddle headed, mealy mouthed, limp wristed spirituality that is passed off as pious today. Too many young men think that spirituality means getting some feel good spiritual high, having warm fuzzies about Jesus, or sharing their personal struggles just like the girls do.
John highlights none of these things in his words to young men. Rather, John highlights the “strength” which is the glory of young men. “I write to you young men, because you have overcome the evil one…I write to you young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
So young men – challenge one another. Push one another. Fred, let’s memorize Ephesians together – I bet I can memorize it faster than you. Let’s pray regularly for our parents – I bet I can be more consistent than you. Let us be sexually pure – if you go after some girl dishonorably or start looking at porn I’m going to let the elders know.
Young men our culture wants you to think that you are incapable of true greatness; that the extent of your ability is to be addicted to entertainment and “big boys toys.” God thinks different. God knows you are quite capable of excelling; He knows you are strong; and so He tells you – fight the good fight, overcome the evil one, let my word dwell in you. For that is what you have to teach the body of Christ.
Reminded that we have failed to appreciate the strength of young men and have instead striven to emasculate them, let us kneel and confess our sin to God.