Wednesday, December 11, 2013

3 Biblical Characteristics Of A Godly Man

As many know, one issue I view as most important is the role of men and whether we are giving them enough support to encourage them as they move through this life. Because of this passion, I was asked to lead a discussion and small group with our high school boys at church on what it means to be a man of God. I was, of course, really excited that I could share and encourage our teen boys as they are learning how to be men of God. I thought I would turn it into a blog post.

There are many things that make a person Godly. I believe I could make a list a mile long things that we all should follow in our quest to be the kind of man God would want us to be. I believe I have captured the spirit of a mile-long list in these three which I will share:

1. Be A Leader.
In our culture, being a man is no longer a worthy goal. Instead, men are insulted and we're told we need to get in touch with our feminine side and to tone down our aggressive activities and hobbies. One of those things we're asked to abdicate is any form of leadership that our wives and daughters might be willing to take. I strongly affirm that men have been called to lead and it is something I take seriously. I want to lead in a way that exudes strength and calm in a storm. Ways we can do that is to not give in to temptation to "lord" over others. We have to not let our leadership turn into a power-trip. In being called to lead, we must remember that giving in to the temptation to lord is not true leadership. A "my way or the highway" attitude is only going to drive people away. However, strong decision making, good reasoning behind decisions, thoughtful prayer, and a humble spirit is going to present to the follower a willingness to be led.

The Bible gives a great model of how leaders should be. One place leadership is presented well comes in the description concerning the qualifications of an elder in Titus 1:6-9:

"...if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." (ESV)

Another section of scripture that gives a great list of qualities for men to be a good leader of not only the church, but of his home is Ephesians 5:25-33:

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (ESV)

Now, I'm not saying that every man should be an elder, nor will he be. What I AM saying is that these are qualities that every man should strive to imitate in his life. If it turns out that he is one day selected as an elder, then he has been faithful in imitating Godly qualities. It is, after all, described as a noble pursuit. Look at these lists. I would love to be the things in these lists! I know that if you are these things, you are being a great leader and a Godly man. Don't wait to be called to lead...you've been called. Live a life worthy of this calling.

2. Be Self-Controlled.
One area many people (not just men) have trouble with is self-control. I think if we all had more self-control, then a lot of our issues would go away. If you think about the big ills of life, how many of them are issues of people not having enough self-control? Allow me to bring up the passage in Titus again...specifically the middle verses in Titus 1:7-8:

"For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined." (ESV)

Let us also consider Paul's words to the Corinthian church written in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (ESV)

The things described in the two passages here in this section have to do with having self-control. Paul even goes on to say that some of these things might even be lawful, but they are not necessarily helpful. I contend that to be a Godly man of self-control, none of these are helpful.

3. Be Courageous.
I know it sounds cliche with the recent movie Courageous, that I would be include this one. I do legitimately and genuinely believe being courageous is key to being a man of God. It takes great courage to stand up for your beliefs. It takes great courage to go against what might be popular. It takes great courage to go against what might be more fun. It takes courage to speak up about what is right when what is right has been hijacked by our world. And to be a leader who is self-controlled, you will need large amounts of courage.

Consider two of my favorite passages; Ephesians 6:10-20:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." (ESV)

I love the imagery of putting on the armor of God. I love the reasons why we put on the armor: to withstand evil, and stand firm. This is a character quality that is frowned on today. I can give many examples where I have stood for the truth and have been told how intolerant and hateful I am being even if I am doing everything I can to speak in gentleness, respect, and love. I have lost friends for standing for what is right.

Finally, my favorite verse in scripture; 1 Corinthians 16:13-14:

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." (ESV)

As I have studied the topic of male spiritual leadership, I have come across this verse more than once and as I have gone through the Greek, I believe the ESV and the NASB translate this correctly where most translations get it wrong. The Greek word for courage--andreia--literally meant manliness. Courage was considered at the very core of being a man. The two qualities (courage and manliness) were linked hand in hand. The Greeks primarily thought of andreia in terms of valor and excellence on the battlefield. A man with courage was strong and bold. So, for many translations, they will translate andreia as "be courageous". While they are not technically incorrect, I would go farther than just courage. I would say what the ESV and the NASB say: "act like men" or "be manly". Paul was calling the men of the church of Corinth (the leaders; whom his letters were addressed to) to stop being lazy, stop being wishy-washy, stop sitting on the sideline letting their church and their families fall into sin. He tells them to step up, lead, and be men; the kind of men we are called to be.

Study Questions:
1. What are some “man laws” that you hold firm to; things that must be done to be considered a man?
2. What are some things that make you feel more manly?
3. Name some men in culture that are considered the epitome of manliness (celebrities, fictional, etc.). Are they considered manly because they are good men or because they fit the a particular stereotype? What IS the stereotype?
4. Is being a “manly man” different than being a “godly man”? Are they exclusive? Can you be both?
5. Would you rather be considered a “manly man” or a “godly man”?
6. How is leadership treated in our world today? Why are men not trained to lead like they once were?
7. Why are many of the Bible verses in this study contested in our culture?
8. What are some godly ways we can lead? How can you be a better leader?
9. Are there particular types of courage that are celebrated and others that are frowned upon in our culture today?
10. What are some ways men can do a better job of “acting like men”?

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