I have been speaking at our local Baptist Association camp this week and was asked to teach about Biblical manhood. Easy task, right? Well, not exactly. Although we can point to scores of stories in the Bible that demonstrate what we believe to be manly characteristics (courage, bravery, sacrifice, etc.), these attributes are not simply reserved for men. There are also stories which demonstrate these traits in the women of the Bible.
So what can we say in particular about Biblical manhood? I think a good place to start is Paul’s charge to husbands in Ephesians 5. He tells the men to lead like Christ and to love like Christ. This is perhaps an oversimplification of the call on men’s lives, but it is a good place to begin thinking about our unique roles. We are to be leaders in our families and homes. We are not to rule with a heavy hand and treat other people like doormats. No, we are to lead like Christ, who led by service. Likewise, we are to love like Christ, not in the shallow and syrupy way that the world defines love, but in the sacrificial way of our Savior, who paid for our sins at the cross. We are to love and lead like Him.
Yet, we face some serious obstacles in this pursuit. We are discussing three at the camp: pride, lust, and laziness. I chose these because they are the ones that I have struggled with the most and the ones that I see other men struggling with as well.
Our pride keeps us from being biblical men. The world sees arrogance as almost a prerequisite for leadership. And men who sacrificially love their wives and families are often seen as weak. Both of these appeal to the pride of a man and cause him to struggle following the path of Christ. So we looked at the example of David in 2 Samuel 6 and his willingness to humble himself before the Lord in extravagant worship (including a lot of dancing, watch out Baptists!). When mocked for his worship, he replied: “I will make myself even more contemptible (undignified, humble) than this!” David was not so concerned about his reputation in this instance to allow his pride to keep him from truly worshipping the Lord. And we who live on this side of the cross, how could we ever let our pride keep us from serving the One who left glory, took on flesh, lived a perfect life, and died naked in our place on the cross. The cross is the key that unlocks the door for our humility.
Our lust keeps us from being biblical men. I tremble for the men of today and tomorrow who carry around in their pocket access to feed their lust and destroy their souls. It is an on-demand drug-dealer, who never runs out of product and never charges a dime. But it is not hard to see where lust will lead. David stays home from war, gazes on a beautiful woman, gets her pregnant, and kills her husband in the first 17 verses of 2 Samuel 11. The King, the man after God’s own heart, who was not too proud to worship the Lord with all his heart, is an adulterer and murderer in no time at all. The great hope we have from that passage is that the story does not end in chapter 11. When David is confronted, he is broken over his sin and repents. You can read his own confession and repentance in Psalm 51, which he shared with all of Israel. And our God is a God who forgives the truly repentant. How could He do that? How is that just? Because Jesus paid for the sins of David on the cross, just like He paid for my lust as well. Through confession and repentance, through being honest and talking with others, we can battle the sin of lust and have victory through Christ.
Our laziness keeps us from being biblical men. Hard work is hard to come by. It’s easier to play video games and look at Facebook and read blogs (uh-oh) than it is to spend time in prayer or studying our Bibles or memorizing Scripture. Some men will work hard with their hands to provide for the family (which is great) but will then use that as excuse to be lazy in spiritual disciplines. We have to fight against that tendency. I have to fight against that tendency. I have to do the work, all the work, required to be a faithful follower of Jesus. Not because I am trying to earn my way to heaven, but in response to the fact that my ticket has already been purchased. He worked hard for me on the cross, suffering under the righteous wrath of the Father, so that I can work hard for Him as a joyful expression of my praise for such a Savior!
I pray the Lord will raise up a generation of biblical men who make war on their sins through faith in Christ and who will lead and love God’s people, for their good and His great glory! Will join with me in praying for our future men?