To My Son on His 18th Birthday
Today you turn 18. Hard to believe that that little 8lb-wiggle-worm we brought home from the hospital has become a 6’3” mound of man. Every glance at you is a reminder of the goodness of God to your mother and me.
Eighteen is a significant number. The world has now granted you the title of “adult.” But God measures your adulthood differently than the world around you. When King David’s time to die drew near, he called his son Solomon to his bedside and gave him a final admonition. He said, “Be strong and show yourself a man” (1 Kings 2:2). Interestingly, when Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burnt at the stake for their belief in the gospel (Oxford, October 16, 1555), these words were central. As they were being tied back-to-back to the stake, the elder Latimer encouraged his younger friend,
“Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out.”
When he said, “play the man,” he we referencing the final conversation between David and Solomon. The way Bishop Latimer used that phrase is much on my heart today for you.
The essence of David’s charge and Latimer’s reiteration point to this: manhood before God is defined by spiritual courage and faithfulness.
David goes on in the verse after this charge to say explicitly that fidelity to God’s Word is the way to activate manliness.
Luke, lots of people are going to tell you what it means to be a man. And there will be some good advice in those encouragements. But none will equal God’s definition of true manhood.
Paul told the men of Corinth to “act like men” (1 Corinthians 16:13). This has two fundamental meanings. Act like a man, not a boy. And act like a man, not a woman. Put these two together and you have the core of biblical manhood: maturity and masculinity.
My prayer is that you will continue to distinguish yourself in these two categories. Strive for maturity by increasing your knowledge and love of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18). It’s time to “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11) and pursue the responsibilities of biblical manhood. Value Jesus above all else in every dimension of your life as regulated by your Bible.
Also, endeavor to hone your masculinity by learning how to be a godly example and leader to the women in your life. Since knowing you were coming into our lives, your Mom and I have prayed that there would be that special woman in your life one day who would recognize such spiritual masculinity and trust you to be her husband. You’re getting closer to that time. Be ready for her.
You and I are entering a new season in our relationship. Day by day you are growing as a brother in Christ to me. You’ll always be my baby boy, but now you are my spiritual sibling. Now, you are starting to lead me. I never knew this could be so sweet.
So happy birthday, Luke. You are indeed a man.
Assume more responsibility. Take calculated risks. Fight for purity. Love your Savior. Enjoy life. And don’t ever forget that your Dad can take you, or at least that he thinks so.
I love you son,