Walk like a Man





Luke 2:52: Jesus grew in wisdom daily, and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the song “Walk like a Man” by the Four Seasons or not, although you’d have to live in a salt mine deep underground to avoid it. In the song, a father gives some advice to his son, whose girlfriend has treated him wrong, telling the boy to keep his head up and to “walk like a man,” presumptively away from his girlfriend.

Now, that sound like pretty good advice to me, to walk away from what amounts to emotional abuse, but the song made me think about what it means to walk like a man (or a woman), that is, what it means to live life in the way God intended for us to. The Bible is full of advice on this matter, but I think the best came during in the Sermon on the Mount with what we call the Beatitudes. You’re no doubt familiar with them, but I don’t think it will hurt to go over them again.

A fourth-century church father, St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived in Cappadocia in Asia Minor, defined “beatitude” in this way:

“Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good, from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want. Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us if it is compared with its opposite, and the opposite of beatitude is misery, and misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings.”

We were created to tend toward pleasure and to avoid pain, so we should be practicing the Beatitudes as part to our God-given nature. Sometimes we don’t and that causes us pain.

The Beatitudes emphasize humility and contrition, and an awareness of our sins, which causes us to mourn for them. We are also given a promise that the Kingdom of Heaven is ours if we follow Jesus. We need to desire justice for all people as much as we need food and drink, and if we are merciful, we will be shown mercy. If we have these qualities, we will see or experience God fully and become children of God, which causes us to make peace wherever peace is needed. Doing so may cause us to be persecuted, but such persecution allows us to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, Jesus’ prescription for walking as children of God has a lot more to it than the advice given in “Walk like a Man,” but the rewards for doing so are so much better than the simple idea of walking away from trouble. Praise God for giving us the way to fully become God’s children. Amen.



The Ears Have It


Matthew 11:15 (Paraphrased): If you have ears to hear, then listen!

I don’t know if you think much about your ears. They’re easy to lose track of, stuck out there on the sides of our heads. You can’t see them unless you look in a mirror, and most of us don’t think about them unless they ache if we’re sick or ring after we’ve been to a heavy metal concert or have been pulled if we’ve been bad, but they’re there, working for us without notice or acclaim, day after day and year after year.

I was thinking about my ears the other day when I was working a crossword puzzle and had to stop doing it and rescue Nacho from a rug where she had hung a claw. When I went to help the poor kitty, I did what almost everyone (who has ears to hear) does: I stuck my pencil behind my ear. How handy! Something I didn’t have to pay for that I carry around with me all the time came in useful. I was amazed.

There are also people who can signal each other by wiggling their ears. I’m not one of them. I can’t even cross my eyes, which bothered me a lot when I was in middle school. I noticed that guys who could do that had girlfriends. At least that’s what I told myself for a reason that I didn’t have one. It was a sad situation there for a while.

And then, of course our ears hold our glasses on. You don’t think this is important, try taping your ears to your head and then see if you can keep your glasses on without holding them or resorting to more tape. Sure, you could do that, but why bother to waste time and money when you could do the same thing for free? I know I don’t want to do that.

The spiritual point to all this is that God has made us in a “wonderful and fearful manner,” and while there are more spectacular and sophisticated parts of the body such as the brain in most people, I like to think, as Paul observed in 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27, “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor.” We all have a part to play in the sharing of the Gospel, no matter who we are or what we look like or what gifts we may or may not have. Praise God for ears—and eyes and noses and toes and knees and fingernails that enable us to do what need to be done, and especially to share the Good News about the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.