Men: Do Hard Things
To fulfill your duty as a man, you must routinely put in hard work, do things you don’t want to, and exert your strength to benefit others.

The manly life is the strenuous life. A man must step out and do hard things for his family and for others. And he must do it over and over again.

One of the greatest losses in modern society is the willingness of men to fulfill this masculine duty. Satan has attacked men, beaten them back and entrapped them in selfishness.

In Deuteronomy 8, God describes the blessings Israel would receive in the Promised Land—and warns of the danger those blessings pose! (verses 12-14). God wants to give us blessings, but He knows our human nature. We get fat and happy, contented and complacent, materialistic—and then we don’t want to work. We don’t want to fight!

How much more true is this in our industrial age of prosperity and luxury? Life is so easy. We have eliminated so many of the challenges life used to deliver. And unsurprisingly, we also suffer from epidemic obesity, bad health and purposeless lives. So many people are glutted on entertainment and unwilling to work! A recent poll discovered that 20 percent of U.S. households have nobody working! This corrupt form of welfare fuels lazy human nature—and destroys people!

Paul prophesied about these “perilous” days in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. He said “men shall be lovers of their own selves.” For these men, the comforts and interests of self are the most important things in life. Paul warned of people being “covetous … unthankful”—expecting everything and taking it all for granted. Paul described us as “incontinent”—without self-control, lacking strength to resist things that aren’t good for us, giving in to our whims. These descriptions define our culture—and they are curses!

Luxury can be a snare. Satan is diligent to entangle us in materialism and comforts. When we succumb, we become afraid of discomfort. Satan wants us to fear discomfort—to the point that we are willing to do anything to avoid it! When we get too cozy inside our comfort zone, we shy away from things that might hurt—even good, noble things! Things like hard work, forsaking sin, making sacrifices for the family, doing the Work of God, standing up to persecution, or fighting for God! If your goal is just to remain comfortable, you won’t do those things!

Fear of suffering is a trap! It debilitates us. We stop growing. We stagnate. We wither away.

God wants men to be good soldiers who endure hardness for the family. Men who work hard, sacrifice, provide for their families; men who confront dangers, protect and take care of others. God needs strong men who build the Church! Men who are dedicated servants of God.

Endure Hardness

2 Timothy was the last book Paul wrote. He wrote it from prison—an uncomfortable place—right before he was put to death. Despite the hardship, 2 Timothy is Paul’s most inspiring book.

The apostle admonished young Timothy, “be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Doing your duty before God involves some affliction! Paul suffered to do God’s Work! Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. Paul was beaten with 39 stripes five times; beaten with rods three times; stoned and left for dead; shipwrecked three times; he suffered in dangerous journeys, perils, weariness, pain, hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness. He lived a rough life as a minister of God!

God put this man through a lot! But Paul told Timothy, That’s the way it is! That’s the life we’re called to! God intends for your life to be difficult. He doesn’t intend for you to live your life of snuggling in your comfort zone. He wants you to struggle, battle, overcome, conquer! He wants you to do what needs to be done for the Work of God and the Family of God. “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). This is manly advice: Don’t be weak—be strong!

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (verse 3). There is hardness that benefits you. We need the problems, challenges and afflictions life presents.

How skilled are you at enduring hardness? God wants you to embrace this struggle. When you do—and you learn to rely on Him—He can develop His character in you!

“God has ordained that this life will not be an easy life—for a very good reason. He knows that, if we have no severe trials and tests, we become spiritually soft and flabby!” says the July 1967 Good News. “A comfortable man is a complacent man. A comfortable man doesn’t want to change—doesn’t want to alter the status quo! Why should he? He is quite happy to let things continue as they are. Why change—when everything seems to be going along so very smoothly?”

Most of us have the natural tendency to just scrape by. Once we fulfill the minimum requirement, we stop pushing ourselves. God has to break us out of that pattern.

“God Almighty knows that we need problems, temptations, trials, necessities, weaknesses, persecutions and afflictions to stir us to action—to stir us up enough to overcome our spiritual lethargy! … He knows that we need to have continual trials, tribulations and persecutions in order to toughen us up spiritually—in order to show us how weak and helpless we are so that we will always look to Him and rely on Him for everything!” (ibid).

Challenges reveal your heart (e.g. Deuteronomy 8:2-3). They teach you about yourself, reveal your weaknesses, and show you the areas where you need to be stronger, more like Jesus Christ!

You must get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Smile Through Trial

God calls you to a life of overcoming. The old saying is true: No pain, no gain. Challenges bring growth. Hard work builds character. A soft life weakens it. We naturally tend to shrink back—to snuggle up in our comfort zone. But in order to live a life of growing and overcoming, you must embrace challenges, difficulties and trials!

God doesn’t want you to simply grit your teeth all the time as you’re battered by difficulties. He wants you to learn to smile through trial.

Paul didn’t just endure hardness—he learned to embrace it! And he taught the brethren to do the same (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5). A godly mindset enables you to do that. When that difficulty strikes, you can do what comes naturally: whine, moan, complain, lose your cool. Or you can embrace that hardness.

Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Jesus Christ set us the best example. He sacrificed everything for the God Family! For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8). Christ suffered—but look at the results! “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (verse 9).

We are treading the same path He did, one way or another. Look at what He went through; He warned that we will have to endure hardness the same way (John 16:33). And He told us to be happy about that!

The Magnitude of Our Calling

We only inherit God’s Kingdom through much tribulation (Acts 14:22)—just like Joshua had to fight his way into the Promised Land! Nobody is going to slouch his way into the Kingdom, or trip and stumble in. Christ said “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The margin says the Kingdom is “gotten by force—and it is gotten by men of driving force.” The Expository Dictionary reads, “Those who are possessed of eagerness and zeal, instead of giving up to the opposition, press their way into the kingdom.”

When you understand the magnitude of the reward, it makes sense that you have to go after it. Paul understood this, which is why he was willing to go through so much, and with such a positive attitude! He said, “[W]e glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3). “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake …” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

At the end of his life, Paul offered some timeless advice. After warning Timothy of many dangers he would face, he said: “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Endure afflictions—that is part of the job. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (verses 6-7).

Paul described his life as a Christian as a fight! He did not say, “I have lived a good life.” He said, “I have fought a good fight.”

God has a tremendous future waiting for you. You have to grow to be ready for it. You’ll never make it if you stay in your comfort zone.

Endure hardness! Embrace challenge! Fulfill your calling as a good soldier. Let God lead you in a life of growing, overcoming, fighting—battling for God—conquering and winning. And do it with a smile on your face.