There is no glory apart from sacrifice. That is what your strength is for. That is what you were made for. You were made for the glory of sacrifice, and when that sacrifice is obedient to the King, you can be sure that you are following your King into the very same grave He once went down into, and He is there waiting for you, to lead you out into a glory that will never fade.
The glory of men is their strength. God made men to be strong in order to provide, protect, build, discover, explore, and lead in taking dominion of this world. But never forget that it is a bleeding, sacrificial strength to be spent gladly on the altar of our King, trusting Him to raise us up.
The Glory of Men
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair” (Prov. 20:29). And just in case somebody wants to object that strength is clearly only the glory of young men, say under the age of 30, I would simply point out that 40 is the new 30, and gray hair is the result of all that strength being spent. But the same thing is clear in Paul’s charge to the Corinthian church: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). When we say that something is your glory, we mean it makes you shine. We mean that it highlights what you are for, what you were made for. Men were created to shine through the use of their physical, emotional, and spiritual strength.
This glory is evidenced in the creation of the first man. And the New Testament repeatedly points back to this fact: that man was made first (1 Cor. 11:8, 1 Tim. 2:13). And why was man made first? Man was made first in order to be cut first, in order to bleed first, in order to lay his life down first. And so he did, and God put him into a deep sleep, cut him open, broke out one of his ribs, and closed the wound back up. And from that bloody rib, God formed the first woman and brought her to the man (Gen. 2:22). Before sin entered the world, before there was any curse, any death, God showed Adam that the way to glory was through obedient suffering and sacrifice. There was no glory-bride apart from Adam’s pierced side. And many centuries later, when Jesus came as the new Adam, He was crucified for His bride, and the Christian Church was formed from His bloody side: “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30).
So, putting these things together, we insist that the glory of man is his strength, but it is particularly the glory of using his strength sacrificially. It is not his glory merely to look strong, to feel strong, but to actually work, to labor, to bleed, to suffer, to struggle, to fight, to endure many hardships in obedience to his Lord.
One modern evangelical heresy is to deny the goodness of male strength. This heresy says that men must effectively castrate themselves. They must destroy their strength, deny their strength, and directly embrace weakness. While this primarily attracts beta males who can’t stand the thought of actually working or fighting or breaking a sweat (or someone not liking them), there’s also a surface level plausibility to the claims, since some Bible verses do speak of how God uses weakness.
The incarnation certainly was a comparative weakness for God to become a mere human being, and Paul says that he came and preached in weakness and God uses the weak things of this world to confound the strong (1 Cor. 1:27). But we are Christians and this means that we must interpret all of Scripture together and not camp out on our favorite verses. The same Paul who says that God confounds the mighty things of this world with His weakness is the one who urged the Corinthians to act like men and be strong. In fact, he does it in the very same letter. So which is it, Paul?
And of course, the answer is yes and both. But we must be mature in our thinking, not childish, not simplistic.