Hey Tough Guy!

Do you consider yourself to be tough?  What does it mean to be a tough guy?  Tough guy has sort of become a byword now.  It’s a label assigned to men who ACT TOUGH.  I emphasize the word ACT because that’s usually all it is.

Being tough was something I think most boys learn about pretty early.  When I was in first grade, Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man was the quintessential tough guy.  He was our model of what was tough, never mind that he had $6,000,000 worth of government enhancements that helped him be tough.  I was also a fan of Nick Barkley.  I remember the opening sequence of Big Valley clearly announcing that Nick was the strongest!  We all wanted to be Nick.

An unwritten rule of being a tough guy that all us tough guy wanna be’s learned in the first grade was that tough guys don’t smile in pictures.  I actually notices this first while observing an Elvis Presley album cover.  Just a little smirk…that’s all you get.  Big grins are not tough.  Apparently tough guys don’t get to show it when they’re happy.

As I grew older, I began to notice that in nearly every case where I met someone with admirable toughness, it wasn’t a tough guy attitude.  These people didn’t talk about being tough, because they never really thought about it.  They didn’t brag about how strong they were or who they could beat up.  Their toughness just showed up and made itself known by how they acted. It was in the way they lived.  Usually, when they were put under a heavy load or a high stress situation, they would respond with amazing self control and inner strength.  What we see in men like this is real toughness.

Acting tough.

Acting tough means putting on a show.  In my own experience, all through my childhood and school years, there were always boys that acted tough around other boys.  They would constantly be applying a mild threat to everyone around them.  The unspoken threat was “I can and will beat you up if you mess with me”.  This was usually a lie and when these guys would be put to the test, often there wasn’t any supporting evidence that they were either strong, or a good fighter.  What it proved was that they were all talk.  Their “tough” was just tough talk.  They were “All hat and no cattle”.  But that leaves us with a question.  What does it really mean to be a tough guy?

Being tough.

In my own mind, being a real tough guy means to have personal discipline. The men I have been most impressed with in my life are the men who did the things that were right, even when they were hard.  In some cases – really hard!  I’ve seen men love people who wanted to take a swing at them.  I’ve watched as people I know were wronged, hurt and publicly embarrassed; but then they almost immediately forgave, walked in love toward the one who hurt them, and never brought it up again.

Proverbs 19:11 says “The discretion of a man defers his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression”.  This to me represents what it means to really be tough.  The ability to pass over the offences that come at you every day, exercise forgiveness, and walk in love.  Even when you don’t necessarily like the person that offends you, you have the spiritual fortitude to obey God’s Word and do what’s right.

A tough guy understands that a good marriage is built sowing and showing love to his spouse.  I say this because loving your wife is not a feeling.  Does the Bible say that “For us that God so loved the world that He felt warm and fuzzy toward us?  Or that He shouted from Heaven “I Love You!”?  No! We see His Love because the Bible clearly states He Gave us His only begotten Son.  This leaves us a clear example.  We also see that we are to model ourselves after Jesus’ own example in Eph 5:25.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…   Love is expressed in giving – even when we don’t feel like it.

Love forgives – as many times as it takes.  True love in a marriage shows up in a thousand forgivenesses a day. Part of loving your spouse is the commitment to overlook and forgive.  It’s when a couple stop forgiving and begin to mark the offences, that serious contention starts.  Marriage is a type and a shadow of the believer’s relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Imagine how it would go if Jesus marked and held it against us every time we were offensive to Him. Thank God He doesn’t.  His forgiveness is everlasting.  There’s no one tougher than Him.  He did what was right even when it meant dying, and suffering the punishment for the sin of everyone.

He has become our example of what a tough guy really is.  Remember – “The discretion of a man defers his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression”.