I don’t ever remember him saying those words, as a matter of fact; I don’t recall the last time a man ever told me that they loved me. It’s just a difficult thing for men to say? Does my dad Love me? Growing up, we never learnt to say those words to our parents or even each other as siblings, it still feels strange to hug my big brother, so the other day I wrote on wassup for his birthday that I love him and it felt really weird.
But now I know my dad loved me, Though he never said it, I have seen it in the many sacrifices he made for us, how he put his name to shame to take us through school, how he struggled to keep us together when other families all around were falling apart. He can be annoying, he can be overbearing but I know he loves me.
We have been exploring this very difficult subject on Love. We began by saying that LOVE comes from God and if we are to learn it it must start with seeking God and how God values and views people. We said that the temperature of our LOVE for God is how we love one another.
Last week we said that everyone needs grace. The mothers we interviewed helped us see that we all have different challenges and need not judge or label each other, because LOVE is patient, kind, does not keep a record of wrongs, Love is not proud, Love rejoices with the truth, Love always hopes and love always protects.
Today we learn from the men and we look at how men particularly struggle to receive and give or experience Love. If we said last week that everyone needs grace, then today I tell you that many people struggle to receive this grace especially men.
In John 21, Jesus asked Peter who had disowned Jesus 3 times- Peter do you love me? Then feed my lamb. Here is a man asking another man if He loved him. Peter’s answers reveal some hard truths how especially men struggle with LOVE. It must have been hard for peter to answer that question. You know that I love you, You know all things you know that I love you, Why
- He felt shame- the sense of being unworthy of, having fallen short of expectations of being a disciple
- He felt disloyal- He had broken promise to Jesus, His words had betrayed him. He did not expect much from Jesus after that. Trust had been broken
I’ll come back to these, but now to our key text today 1 John 3:11-18
There is that emphasis again, a summation of all the laws- Love one another.
Do not be like Cain who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.
Let me take you back to that account. In Gen 4, is the story of these 2 brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain the elder was a farmer while Abel, the younger kept livestock. At one time they each brought their sacrifice to God and God was more pleased with Abel’s gift than Cain. This was because Abel gave out the best of his – fat portions and from the first born of his flock while Cain simply brought some fruits.
This reprimand made Cain very mad and at one point went out to the field with his brother and Abel and killed him. But what is more interesting is how He answered God, somewhat arrogantly
The Lord asked him “Where is your brother Abel? He said “I don’t know” Am I my brother’s keeper?
Listen to those words again. You are the only 2 sons of Abraham, the only other 2 people in the world apart from your mother and father, how can you say you don’t know where your brother is?
But these words of Cain, unfortunately characterize what many of us would answer if we are asked
“Where is your brother? – Sadly, the truth is we do not know or we do not even care? Our Ego as men tells us that as man as I am so is he, He is toughing it out somewhere as I am. Am I my brother’s keeper?
Men are afraid to get into another man’s cave and we are afraid to invite other men into our caves. The result is that there are too many men hurting and hurting those around them, because like Cain we say I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper.
Yet our caves stench with ourselves and our problems: Our caves stench with secret bottles of alcohol, stench with sexual addictions and problems, stench with violence on our women and children, stench with financial debts and problems. So we have learnt to tough it out, but just what if you dared to get into another man’s cave? There are many men killing relationships, destroying themselves in their caves, because no other man has asked to find out where they are?
Our egos as men harden our hearts, we don’t know how to ask for help or receive help, so we suffocate our families and spouses with our single minded, self pragmatic, self made pontiffs and thrones. Our egos toughen us, we don’t know how to say sorry, thank you, we get what we want, when we want and how we want it.
Men’s egos are unreasonable at times. I once saw a small guy being beaten, His ego would not allow him to surrender and he went on and on getting beaten each time. Generally most men fight because of Ego.
But why do we struggle to let other men into our caves? Why do we struggle to invite help and the care of another brother? I suggest 2 things that are at the core of every man’s conflict.
- Broken Trust or Disloyalty– How would Peter respond to such a question do you love me, after he disowned Jesus 3 times. It was when Jesus needed him most that he bailed out. (Call Men to do the trust fall)
Trust or Loyalty is very important to a man; we are created to need it but also created to give it. At the core of many men’s heart ache is the pain that comes with the breach of contract. When those you thought would support you ran away, when the one you hoped to cover you turned on you, Indeed many of our problems with money, land and relationships are because of broken promises and loyalties. It turns brothers against each other; it starts wars in the families and nations like Jacob and Esau. The world teaches us to trust no man, because No one really cares.
So today God calls to us, where is your brother? Will we respond like Cain, I don’t know, Am I my brother’s Keeper? Have we run away from brothers, sisters who need us. Christ in Us, says something else…You can Trust your Brother.
The Lord Jesus Christ, Now asks peter if He loved Him and entrusts him with an even greater responsibility. Peter struggled with this?
- 2. But the second reason we struggle with Love as men is Shame
Every man at some point in life struggles with shame. There is either someone who has ashamed you, or you have shamed. Shame is being exposed negatively. Someone has disgraced you, or embarrassment or dishonor. Shame is like stripping off everything you believe that makes you a man.
Peter Struggled with Shame, How could Jesus ask me if I love him? I am ashamed of my actions, I am ashamed I could not even stand against a strange woman but denied Jesus, I am ashamed of my actions, How can I stand to lead the disciples and the church after denying him not once but 3 times.
There are 3 main areas men carry their shame
The first is our heads– Men try to out prove their wits, we are in a race to prove we know better, we know more and we know best. So we get embarrassed when our ignorance is revealed. We are ashamed by spouses, or others who seem to know better than we do. (My wife and Pst. Maish) We develop low self esteem? To call a man a fool is a big insult. You remember how our parents told us that they were the number ones…no one settles for number 2. So men are hiding in their education. Have you been in a conversation where men are talking about politics, football or technical info? It’s so belittling for some of us.
The second area we carry shame is our hearts- Men develop a low self esteem. Growing up, if you failed to conquer you were a laughing stock, it was not right to be seen as a weakling, every boy was supposed to be first body and unheard-off to be beaten by a girl. We struggle when we find ourselves with women of seemingly stronger personalities, we fight those names people have called us, we look down on ourselves in the family, we carry betrayals deeply with us. So we don’t open up to love, we don’t know how to receive love
The last area we carry shame is around our groins– This is a big one for many. Many men carry the shame of sexuality and the flesh in general. Our sexuality is used to conquer and they lie to us that the more, the various, the manlier you are. Others are challenged to perform; others have an esteem issue around it. Others we are ashamed that there are things that have happened to us in the past, others there are things we have done to others in the past. We are ashamed to own up sexually and to our sexual responsibilities. We hurt others and we continue to hurt ourselves
So Men I ask again “Where is your brother? Is he hiding in any of these shames?
But in finishing that passage 1 John 3:14-18
LOVE brings healing and resurrection. We know we have passed from Death to LIFE if we love one another. When we are open to love we begin to heal and to resurrect those things that are dead and dry- those relationships that have been broken by loyalty and shame.
The reverse is also true, we don’t reach out to our brothers, we continue to murder them as Cain did.
Our healing lies in our vulnerability to receive LOVE. Our freedom comes when we are broken by this love.
How was Peter to be restored, by LOVE? Jesus reinstates Peter to even greater responsibility, because it’s not about Peter anymore, it’s about God and God’s kingdom. That’s how God wants to turn our shame and our broken loyalties into Kingdom assets for others to know God. Its that story of shame that will keep another from falling.
As we can see LOVE is sacrificial, getting out of your comfort zone to reach out to a needy brother, but love is also vulnerability- receiving the sacrifice of others- being open to the brother who has left his comfort zone o reach out to you.
Jesus demonstrated his love by dying for us. Now he asks you to receive his death and also die for another man. We don’t struggle to die for someone but sometimes we struggle to receive that someone died for us.
So how do I Know my Dad loves me, Love is not just words but action. Love is doing. Only I wish I had more men around me. Love is an action. So join me in the soul Group challenge.
Will you take that action of Love- Take the soul group challenge, find those brothers, share some of these issues we have talked about and pray for each other and I tell you the truth healing will come.
Take out that paper fill it and bring it as we pray.
Never Walk Alone, Be your brother’s keeper.