Since I can remember, I have looked up to men who I perceived to embody the kind of attributes I admire. Even before I was a Christian, seemingly without effort, I gravitated towards those men who served as a real-life example of true masculinity. In our contemporary American culture of androgynous humanity, it seems all the more important to extol, exemplify, and encourage appropriate manhood.
The term itself, “manhood,” is already controversial in American culture, but I will venture even further into controversy by adding the qualifying term “biblical” to it. I am not interested in social norms or ever-changing psychological categories of gender identity (at least not in the sense of allowing them to define what manhood ought to be). I am interested in manhood as it is defined by the One who made man (Gen. 1:27). Therefore, I am interested in “biblical manhood.”
As I consider the relatively few truly godly men I have met over the course of my lifetime, I pondered some similarities between them. There is much more that could be said in regards to their similar characteristics and patterns, but I will narrow my focus to three attributes. These are three attributes of real men (i.e. biblical manhood).
First, godly men exhibit hunger and humility concerning God’s Word. Each of the men I admire as truly godly men have a voracious appetite for God’s Word. They have a very high view of Scripture, embracing the doctrine of inerrancy and the Reformation battle cry “sola Scriptura.” Even those who may not know the terms or phrases affirm the truths which these represent. In addition, these godly men have a great personal dependence upon the Bible. They are humbly hanging on God’s every word because they truly believe that God has spoken.
Second, godly men have an honest discontent with sin and desire for personal holiness. These men have a real sense of their personal sinful corruption, yet they are not content to abide with things as they are. While they are quick to acknowledge their failures and their proclivity for them, they are also not satisfied with the status quo. They war against personal sin, and they are quick to bear with others in their fight to do the same. They trust God’s promise to forgive and His promise to renew.
Third, godly men have a captivating love for and gratitude towards Christ. These men might be best described as keenly Gospel-focused in all things. Their understanding of the Gospel is ever-growing and their ability to filter all of life through the lenses of the Gospel is also ever-expanding. Christ is truly Savior, Redeemer, Master, Friend, and Lord. The affections of godly men are stirred by the reality that Christ has actually done something, Christ is actually doing something now, and Christ will actually do something in the future.
It is important for me to note, these attributes are not necessarily particular to “manhood” in themselves. A godly woman may exhibit these same attributes. However, a real man will distinguish himself (both from other men and from women) by his exemplary leadership in these areas. In other words, a godly man will lead himself, his home, his church family, and his extended community by exhibiting these attributes. The real man will provide a living example and make an influential impact on others.
May God raise up a multitude of real, godly men. May God create in our hearts the desire and the commitment to live to His glory. And, may God help us to extol, exemplify, and encourage appropriate manhood.