Manhood

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:17.

Jesus not only represents but models the perfect man. 

Sometimes it’s hard to remember our first mentor is supposed to be Jesus.  I guess because we so need visual examples we fail to remember the principle.  I don’t think this is a bad thing for the NT continuously speaks to the issue of being examples of godliness, excelling at kindness and grace toward one another.  What a parent lives out in front of his or her children will be what they imitate.  God created the learning process this way, so once sin entered the picture, the examples went off the mark.

I’ve rarely met a man who served Jesus with his whole heart who wasn’t changed drastically by the contact.  Yet I’ve also rarely met anyone who understood the balance of grace and judgment completely.  This is not to say I get it totally either, but to point out that we struggle with this concept constantly for the mere reason we come from fallen stock and our perceptions are skewed—not only from the ideal but from each other.  I’ve noticed “self-made” men usually have a bit of an attitude about everyone else who hasn’t been as successful.  Their children grow up to think and act out the same attitude of arrogance their father displayed.

For example:  When you or I meet a street person who is obviously stoned, what’s our first reaction?  Well, most of us tend to think “get a job” or some such condescending thought like that, because a lot of the characters we meet on the street are professional panhandlers.  That said, we have no idea what put them there (on the street) so judging their situation or condition is premature to the say the least.

The self-made men would not think twice about calling such a person lazy or some other comment in that vein because they believe failures do it to themselves.  In a world of dog eat dog failures are thrown to the dogs then disparaged for their loser status.  It’s callous, cruel and wholly unnecessary.

We men have been called to change that in Jesus.  We are taught by Him and His disciples to be upfront and honest with all people, calling sin “sin” and not being afraid of what other people might do to us for it.  At the same time we are told to be loving, careful and gentle with our brothers who fall into sin—or jump into it, as the case may be.  Why?  Because stoning the sinner never prevented sin nor did it cure the disease.

It takes incredible courage to be loving with those who are unlovable.  In my estimation our biggest mistake in Christianity is our belief that preaching is the end of our duty to others.  Instead of coming along side the weak or fallen to lift them up and support them until they can walk in Jesus relatively independently, we condemn them from a distance for being stuck in the mud and sewage.  Those washed in the blood wrinkle their noses at the smell of the fallen as if they never experienced the same thing.

I will say it again another way:  It takes far more guts to encourage a fallen person to be like Jesus then live it in front of them than it does to preach a sermon or call them out for it.  The former takes courage because it becomes involved with the person or people; the latter takes hardly any effort at all and requires only disdain for those who are not like us.

Now while there is a place for church discipline in the form of artificial consequences for known sin (we’ll discuss this at a later date in detail), there is never a reason to condemn anyone.  In 1 Corinthians 6 & 7  we see a man who steals his father’s concubine/wife and is called to repent, for sure, but we also hear Paul rebuke the church for tolerating it as well.  The consequence the church was to meet out?  The man was to be excluded from fellowship until he repented.  Why?  If the church stands for loyalty to Christ, worshiping demons would be antithetical to that loyalty wouldn’ you say?  So here in this case, a man took his father’s wife, which by dent of Scripture is adultery, covetousness and theft, then the church patted him on the back for it.  Even in the pagan world this was frowned upon and condemned, which means the gospel of Jesus would be held in contempt for excusing such behavior.  The church had to respond a certain way or face the just accusation of hypocrisy.

You see in the second letter to Corinth Paul commending them for their obedience and telling them to restore this dude to fellowship again because he repented or he might be overcome with sorrow and decend into bitterness.  This isn’t a harsh sentence as harshness goes, rather it is a strong stance on who we are in Christ and what we represent.  It took courage and love for these people to stand up for righteousness—love for God as foremost in their consideration.  Yet they weren’t to be harsh with this guy at all, instead they were instructed not to socialize with him or let him be part of the fellowship until he corrected his behavior.  Once he turned away from his sin, however, they were to restore full fellowship without condemnation.

That to me sounds like a pretty solid method of dealing with evil.

A real man does what is necessary no matter what the naysayers do or say.  What it means Scripturally to “man-up” is to become like our Master.  What did Jesus do for sinners?  He died for them.  What did Jesus do for sick, demon possessed, hungry, lost, broken and trapped people?  He healed, delivered, fed, found, put them back together, and broke their cages.  What did He do for the very people who put Him on the cross?  He prayed God would forgive their ignorance.

Here is the example men must conform to the most. 

I have no problem calling domineering, controlling and abusive men out on the carpet to their faces, if need be, but I will do so first in private, then with a brother in the faith, then with the elders and lastly before the church.  In other words, the Scripture gives solid guidelines for confronting sin, giving the offending brother or sister plenty of opportunities to repent.  Now this confrontation doesn’t mean we condemn them for falling back into old habits.  This course of action is only for those who refuse to admit sin or refuse to turn from it.  Since sanctification is the work of a lifetime, it will take some of us many years to conquer some of our more tenacious bad habits of the heart.  The role of the spiritual brother or sister in Christ, however, is to continue to encourage godliness in others, confront sin as needed and strengthen them by being a living example of what it means to be a sinner saved by grace.

I believe the best examples I’ve ever witnessed is when good men showed me what it meant to be honest with their sin and continued to demonstrate growth.  I watched them as they fell into bad habits again and again but refused to let those habits rule or dominate them.  They turned back to the Savior and grew stronger with each return.  We are not sinless so pretending to be is foolish.  Our examples to the younger believers is to be one of showing the way out of sin, not magical accomplishment.  No one is perfect, not even one, so pretending to be is godless and hypocritical.

It serves the church far more effectively if the mature believers demonstrate confession, repentence and change in front of the babes in Christ, than it does for them to put on a front of sinlessness.  The body of Christ is a hospital for sinners not a haven for saints.

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One Response to “Manhood”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    So many misconceptions of what it means to be a godly man. So many wounds in the stages of a man’s life that hinder his walk with the Lord until he allows God to heal him.

    You’re right about perceptions. We had a guy walk into the office very under the influence last week. He wanted money and food. I was willing to give him the food and cold water but not the money. Doug was at his desk and he gave the guy a minimal amount of cash. When I asked him about it he just sighed and said, “Susan, you see a man on drugs, dirty and wasting his life but that is a lost soul. One day when he comes to himself, I want him to remember the church in a good light with an open hand of love and provision.”

    I’m still not comfortable with the money part but I get what Doug is saying and it does convict me greatly.

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