The Measure of a Man

True Manliness empowers men to be Statesmen in the highest court in eternity. Anything less than that is a compromise or abandonment of manhood.

The Bible gives us a comparison between the Divine Statesman, known also as the Great Men, and those who have abandoned their destiny. Let me show you what the Bible says.

Jeremiah’s Insight

The prophet Jeremiah lived in Israel just before Babylon took the nation into captivity. 600 years before Christ, Jeremiah was sent by God to warn the wayward Israelites that they must repent or be removed from the land. The people did not repent and so Jeremiah got to see his warnings come to pass on the nation.

Among the many powerful insights revealed to Jeremiah by the prophetic anointing that was on him, is an insight into the state of manliness. Early in the record of his ministry (the book of Jeremiah) he exposes the spiritual state of the men of the land. In doing so he shows why the land was going to be judged.

Jeremiah 5:1-5

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a man, if there be any that executes judgment, that seeks the truth; and I will pardon it.

And though they say, The LORD lives; surely they swear falsely.

O LORD, are not your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.

I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.”

Two Kinds of Men

These few verses in Jeremiah 5 describe two kinds of men. One type of man is referred to as “man” and “great men“. The other type of man is described as “poor” and “foolish“.

The first type of man is a Statesman before God. I say that because God was willing to pardon a wicked city if He could just find one such man. True men are able to do business with God about the destiny of whole cities, just as Abraham negotiated with God about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The other men are ignorant and ineffective. Rather than being able to save a city they are the very reason that judgement is coming on the city.

The Measure of a Failed Man

Reviewing Jeremiah’s description in Jeremiah 5:1-5 note several qualities about these failed men.

Firstly, they live in Deception. They declare right sounding words with their lips, saying “The Lord lives!” But they don’t believe it. They don’t live in the fear of God. So they are making a false statement.

That means they are guilty of Deception (lying to God and others), Self-deception, Hypocrisy, and False Religious Devotion. Failed men can be members of churches and have a high-sounding religious tone. Religion is not the determinant of true manhood, but the “truth” by which the man lives is.

Failed men are also Insensitive to Rebuke. When God corrects them they are Unrepentant, Stubborn and engaged in Wilful rebellion. These men stick with their chosen course of action, even in the face of God’s judgement upon them.

Because they have abandoned truth and rejected correction they are Impoverished, Foolish, Ignorant of God’s Ways and Ignorant of God’s Judgements. They have lost value as people. They have no wisdom to bring to others, and no understanding of what is going on and what to do about it.

What is more, because they have Refused to submit to God, going into rebellion, independence and self-will, they suffer a total loss of authority. They cannot save their city, because they don’t even understand what is really happening to their city, because they are deluded about who and what they are.

Does that sound like many people in western nations today?

Qualities to Reject in Men

While many men are concerned about developing a “six pack” and putting out the right image to those around them, they are distracted from the real qualities that need attention.

The Opposite of true manhood is not weakness, but moral compromise, spiritual blindness, stubbornness and deception. Men can be strong in will and physical power, and use that strength to resist God’s prophets. Because resisting God is moral compromise and the abandonment of their true destiny, their strength of will and body does not make them a man.

Jeremiah says of the foolish and reject men that they have “broken the yoke and burst the bonds” (Jer 5:5). That means they have rebelled against God’s constraints on their life. They reject God’s will for them and they reject God’s moral standards. They are rebels.

Great Men

An Essential quality of true manhood is submission to God. Every other evidence of physical strength, determination of will, etc, is useless, if not godly.

So let’s look at the definition of the great men described by Jeremiah.

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a man, if there be any that executes judgment, that seeks the truth; and I will pardon it.” Jeremiah 5:1

“I will get me to the great men, and will speak to them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.” Jeremiah 5:5

Great men execute judgement, seek the truth, know God’s ways and know God’s judgements.

Great men are attune to God. Their greatness doesn’t come from popular public acclaim. They don’t need an image consultant or a personal trainer. They don’t need their photo touched up or their PR blurb enhanced by professionals. Their greatness is not conferred upon them by crowds or earthly crowns. Their greatness comes from the Greatest of them all.

Knowing God

Great men Know God. They have the kind of relationship with God that enables them to know what others do not know. How do I know that? Well look at verse 5, “they have known the way of the Lord”. Now look at Romans 11:33.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33

You can’t find out God’s ways! So how in the world did these men “know” God’s ways? It could only have come to them by revelation from God. You see, they had that kind of relationship with God. They were attune to God, not their TV set or the popular media. Their truth did not come from the gurus and columnists, or the investigative journalists. Their truth came from God and they humbled themselves enough to admit that they need God’s revelation, not man’s prognostication.

These men also know God’s Judgements, so they live in the “fear of God”. And it is the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.” Psalm 111:10

While the evil, broken men did what they wanted and had only folly and deception, these great men lived in the fear of the Lord and were attentive to His judgements.

Doing the Stuff

And what’s more, the great men did something about what they knew from God. They executed judgement themselves and they sought truth. They did not accept the deception of the failed men who dominated their society. They dug out the truth and made correct assessment of each situation. They were not dependent on their culture, but prepared to live apart from everything the deceived people believed in.

The deceived men were killed or taken captive. The great men, like Jeremiah himself, were set free by those who enslaved others.

Your Mission, Should you Choose to Accept it…

Which category of man do you fit into? Are you a great man? Or are you a fool, living in self-delusion and flowing along with your culture?

Your mission, whether you like it or not, is to fulfil your divine destiny. And that destiny is not to make yourself happy, rich, comfortable, photogenic or independent. That destiny puts you under God’s authority, to fulfil His plans for you and His kingdom.

The payout is that you get to be truly free and you get to stand in God’s throne-room doing business over whole nations. So, it’s worth the effort to become a real man.

Love as the Litmus Test

Everyone has their own way of assessing things. We judge all manner of things by first impression, speech, attitudes, dress, facial expression and so on. So how does God want us to be evaluated?

God’s Litmus Test

Jesus Christ explained that there is a litmus test by which we would be evaluated. That process was one that was important to God and so it was pointed out to us, along with a command that we perform in a way that gives us a good litmus test rating.

“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35

Did you notice the words “By This”? People will know you are Jesus’ disciple by a particular litmus test. It’s not the smile on your dial, your Bible knowledge or the frequency with which you go to church. The litmus test is whether you love others or not.

A Commanded Lifestyle

There are many optional things in the Christian life. Your diet, exercise regime, domestic comforts, career and much more are completely at your discretion. But there is one thing that is commanded of you. You are commanded to love other Christians.

Now that should not be a surprise, even if it is not something you see many Christians do. Remember that the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And this command which was identified by Christ was first given under Moses.

“You are not to avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you will love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18

What Does Love Look Like?

Have you ever wondered what “love” looks like? It is supposed to be visible. That’s how it can function as our litmus test. If love was invisible then no-one would know whether we had love for one another or not. Yet it is the very visibility of our love for one another that allows people to know that we are Christ’s disciples. Got it? So love must look like something. It is not invisible.

Love Defined

The best working definition for love that I have ever heard is where we “want what is best for the other person, despite the personal cost to ourselves”.

By that definition we can see that love is completely self-less. So our love can be seen by the selfless things we do. When we put other people ahead of ourselves and help others out even though it messes things up for us, we are demonstrating something that others know is not in their life.

So if love has to look like anything at all it should look like selflessness. When we devour other people, indulge our anger and self-will, are intolerant, prejudiced, reactive or closed, we demonstrate something other than love.

Test Yourself

It is not always easy to properly observe ourselves, because we apply many filters to what we do and excuse things in ourselves we don’t excuse in others. However, despite the difficulties, we are wise to try to get a grip on ourselves and to make some kind of assessment about who and what we are.

So try testing yourself. Use the litmus paper on the acidic state of your own heart.

Take a few moments to write down ten examples of your selflessness, patience, kindness, generosity, tolerance, self-restraint and other practical expressions of love that you have shown in the past week. If you come up with more than ten items of substance then that’s a positive sign. If you can’t think of any then you need to pay particular attention to that.

God is Watching

Oh, and by the way, whether you test yourself or not, God is weighing everything you do and say. He is watching and ready to bless you if you fulfil His will. So, don’t take the subject too lightly. A good litmus test every now and then is worth the effort.

The Fatherless World

Australians celebrated Father’s Day earlier this month and so the subject of Fathers and Fatherless-ness came to my attention. Here are some of the thoughts I shared in recent weeks on the subject.

Fatherless-ness

The absence of true ‘fathering’ has been so endemic in western culture that most people take for granted a condition which is really a state of ‘father-less-ness’. Even in homes where the dad is present the condition of fatherless-ness can still exist. Not to mention the increasing number of homes where dad is not there, or the dad who is there is not the biological dad to the children.

There are many ramifications of fatherless-ness, impacting deep into the soul and psyche of a child, be that child male or female. Dads provide a level of input and nurture in a child’s life that is hard to quantify, but which is definitely real in human experience.

Two Contributors to the Problem

Fatherless-ness is promoted by the actions of both fathers and children. It is wrong to lay all the blame at the feet of the fathers, just as it is also wrong to lay all the blame at the feet of the children. Both fathers and their children co-operate to frustrate the father’s role in our culture.

Mostly people do themselves and their families harm in ignorance. Most people are lulled into a value system that is dictated by cultural and social norms. Therefore it is easy for them to simply do what others around them are doing. This ignorance and lack of clear guidance is itself an evidence of the ‘fatherless-ness’.

What is ‘fatherless-ness’?

Fatherless-ness, by my own definition (sorry for those who have an alternative take on the subject), is the state of being effectively lacking the key contributions which a godly father, under divine authority, is meant to bring into the life of his children.

There may be a dad in the picture, and that dad may appear to be everything a dad should be. He might play sport with his children and help them with their homework. He may be his children’s best friend and may spend much time with them. But if that dad does not function in the life of the child as God wants him to then that man’s children are ‘fatherless’.

So, What is a Father?

Fatherless-ness needs to be clarified by an understanding of what a true father is. Once again I am going to rely on my own definitions here. A true father, as I understand it from the Bible, is the source of divine authority in the child’s life. The father is the ‘source’ and the ‘guide’, protector and provider for his children.

A father who does not connect his children with divine authority, expressed through the father in the father’s fear of God, is a man who is failing in his calling and who is leaving a deficit in the life of his children.

Fatherhood is a high and holy calling. It is a divine privilege and holy mission. It is a divinely sanctioned appointment, where a man becomes God’s ambassador in the life of his children. That man must also be God’s ambassador in the life of his wife, such that the wife supports him in his ministry into the whole family.

Anything less than that is a compromise of true fathering. When a father fails to be a true father, he leaves his children with some level of ‘fatherless-ness’. If a child is given ‘less’ fathering than God intends for that child, then the child experiences fatherless-ness.

Not Enough Fathers

The Apostle Paul noted that there are plenty of instructors but not many fathers (1Corinthians 4:15). You will find many people willing to give you their opinion and to enlist you into their cause, but you will not find many people who are willing to function as a father in your life.

Fathering, as we saw earlier, is a high and holy calling. It involves levels of sacrifice and dedication to the good of the child. Not many people in our culture are willing to be self-less. They are much more keen to look out for what makes them happy and for the easiest path they can take.

Consequently we have a fatherless world. Whole communities are at the mercy of those who wish to exploit them. Cultural standards and community wealth have been abducted by people who wish to exploit and manipulate. There have been no ‘fathers’ willing to fight for the rights and heritage of their children.

The Sell-Out

Consider what happens in the endless cycle of elections which western democracies are subjected to. Prospective leaders make promises, luring the voters to hand over their lives to political processes. To win the votes the contenders mount a suite of promises, lures and special offers, which they will give to the voters if they sell themselves to that party or candidate.

This is in effect a sell-out of the personal rights and the community assets. Progressively, through succeeding generations, we have sold out our community standards, community assets, community harmony, community security and so on. And what did we get in return? All we received were temporary benefits, or, worse still, broken promises.

Real Fathers Don’t Sell-Out

True fathers are not bought with cheap political promises. Real fathers don’t sell out their children’s inheritance. So how did we get sold out so cheaply?

There is an absence of true fathers! Our cultural and community state is the clearest indication that we live in a ‘fatherless’ world. There are no fathers protecting, reclaiming and providing the community wealth that previously existed. We are all living in the scraps of a former culture where fathers existed and where fathers built a heritage for their children’s children.

But, through successive generations of men who are not true fathers, and children who wish to rebel against their fathers, we have been delivered the remnant of a former kingdom. Some people still believe we possess what now only exists in memory. But we have been stripped of our inheritance.

The Clarion Call

The time has long come where a clarion call is going out to the men of our culture to become real men and true fathers. It is the destiny of today’s generation of men to deliver us from a Fatherless World.

Staying Under Command

Westerners have little grip on authority. Most westerners don’t have authority, because they are not under authority. Most westerners have violated their right to rule by refusing to be ruled. Of course they are ruled, or indeed dominated, but their spirit is one of insubordination and independence. So they have lost the right to rule.

This is profoundly significant for the menfolk of the west. They are the ones who are supposed to lead, as the head of their home. Yet they cannot take that lead, since they know nothing of true headship and authority. Their challenge is to stay under command.

I want to help you learn how to do that, so here’s an analogy I recently used to illustrate this principle.

The Chain of Command

Before we dig into my illustration let me remind you how God has set up the command structure. God has created an hierarchical authority structure for us to operate within. God is the head of that structure. The next in command is Christ. So God, as Almighty God and as the Son of God, Jesus Christ, occupies the two top positions in the hierarchy. Husbands are given a place of authority directly under Christ. Wives are given a place directly under their husband.

Husbands, then, have a pretty awesome place of authority. They are directly answerable to Jesus Christ. Imagine being directly answerable to the Prime Minister or President of your country. That’s the place of authority husbands have in God’s scheme of things. That’s a pretty elevated place of responsibility and authority.

Abusing the Boss

Imagine being directly answerable to the leader of your nation, and then taking orders from someone else. When you begin taking orders from someone other than your boss you are abusing the boss. You mock the authority of the boss because you do not revere and respect it. You stop being under that authority and so negate the delegated authority given to you.

Every time you let someone change the orders your boss gave you the effect is that of mocking your boss and demeaning the boss’s authority. What does it say about your boss, when you let some person off the street tell you what to do? You are lowering the authority of the boss to being no more significant than that of a stranger or some person with no authority.

Stay Under Command

The most important thing for a person to do is to stay under command. This is especially so if you have been given the privilege of direct access to someone of high authority. You certainly would not want to violate that authority and lose your place under it. You want to remain in direct line of command from the highest officer possible.

To do that you must honour your boss. You must be diligent to faithfully fulfil the wishes and instructions of the boss, so he is pleased with you and retains you in the position of authority he has assigned you.

This is equally as important for husbands as the head of their home. If a man disregards the lordship of God and Christ in his life he loses the effective authority that has been delegated to him. He ends up with a wife and children who have no regard for his leadership and headship, since he has no regard for Christ’s headship over him.

The Challenge

Many men are already starting from a lost position. They have to regain their authority in a context where their wife rules them and their children ignore them. This is a pretty hefty challenge, but it is one that can be met. God is the one who assigned men their authority and so when men move into it they do have God’s backing.

The question I get asked from time to time is about actually activating that authority, especially in a context where it has never been exercised before. That is where this Soldier analogy came from. I hope you find it helpful.

Soldier to Soldier

Imagine two platoons of soldiers from different armies working together in a battle zone against a common enemy. Each group is kitted out with their issue of uniform and equipment. The soldiers from the two armies mix together, but are under the direct command of their platoon leader.

A soldier from one army advises a soldier from the other nation that the way he carries his ammunition belt is not right. One army wears the belt around the waste and the other slings it over the shoulder. The solder being told what to do by the other soldier has to decide what to do.

He can take the advice of the other soldier. If he does so, he is stepping outside the instructions given him by his own army command. The kit which he is issued and trained to use is to be utilised as instructed. If he rejects his own command he makes himself subservient to a mere soldier from a different nation. He is acting outside his chain of command.

However, the suggestion may be a good one. So, could he not follow the instruction if it strikes him as a good idea? The answer is, No! He must operate within the chain of command and stay under the authority of his commanding officer.

What to Do?

What he can do is go to his commanding officer and ask for permission to wear his kit in a different manner to what is prescribed. The commanding officer may happily give him leave to do so. It may not be a significant matter. The officer may allow the soldier to do what he thinks best. Or there may be good reason why the prescribed wearing of the kit has to be maintained.

By respecting the command of his own platoon leaders the soldier is staying in a place of authority. That authority protects him and also empowers him with delegated authority.

The Point

The point of this illustration is to convey the concept of authority to people who have little practical experience in living under God’s authority. The next issue is how to practically apply authority and headship into a home where it has been absent. I’ll tackle that question in a future post about Regaining Domestic Authority.

The Economic Man

A man recently told me how he struggles to take the lead in his home because his wife out-earns him. His situation brought to focus the cherished idea that men have authority only because they are the bread-winner. This is a false notion and needs to be dealt with in order to find blessing in the home.

The problem we have in our society is that there are two prevailing mindsets we can draw from. Well, actually there is only one made accessible to most people, and that’s the wrong one. However, for Bible believing Christians there are certainly two mindsets which pull at our consciousness.

One mindset is the prevailing naturalistic view of the world. People who deny God’s place in the universe see everything as a product of naturalistic processes. They believe the world evolved by natural processes. They believe that societies evolved and that marriage is a product of people’s attempts to survive their circumstances.

From a naturalistic point of view it could be suggested that male leadership in the home evolved due to man’s greater capacity to guarantee the safety of the family, through brute strength and his greater capacity to bring provision to the home. That idea has been sown around western society to the point that many people simply assume it is gospel truth.

The other mindset is given to us in the Bible. It is a mindset based on God as our creator and the architect of our whole life experience.

Naturalistic thinking is mono-dimensional. It can only understand things from the human perspective. It is also without moral protection. Since we live in a moral universe influenced by godly and ungodly forces, those who choose not to seek godly influence will unwittingly come under ungodly influence. Ungodly forces are intent on deception and slavery for mankind, keeping people away from truth that sets them free. The Apostle James identified the way these two forces impact the mind of man when he discussed ‘wisdom’.

“This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish.” James 3:15

James exposes here that what stacks up as pretty good human, materialistic wisdom will actually have an ungodly source. It will be a limited perspective, from man’s point of view, but with a barb in the tail.

The naturalistic point of view lacks the profound depth and breadth available to us as we listen to what God is saying. The godly, Biblical mindset is rich with grace and positive potential.

Now, back to the Economic Man. The naturalistic, ungodly perspective suggests that a man’s only real value in a home is his economic contribution. His right to lead the home and his value to the other family members is directly linked to his economic worth.

If the wife and children out-earn him, and out-perform him in many ways, then this naturalistic man has to accept his loss of worth. He is demeaned by their success and relegated to some lesser place, unless he can stand tall in their presence and command respect because of his performance.

True manhood has nothing to do with economic contribution. It has nothing to do with physical strength, force of will, ability to protect and defend, or any other masculine quality. True manhood is simply being the man that God created the bloke to be. And the authority which a true man holds comes from God, not from the man himself.

The man is the head of the home, not because of his economic power, but because that is God’s design. God chose the man to carry the responsibility. That is why the universal expression of marriage has the man carrying the responsibility. God created it so and made it natural and logical to be so. Men did not gain headship by a process of evolution, or by swinging a big club. They were given it by God.

A man could be quadriplegic, old, weak, bald, humourless, or any of a myriad un-masculine qualities, and still be the head of his home and the leader of his family.

When men walk away from God they end up reduced to the level of their economic performance. A form of economic rationalism is exerted over their existence. They must perform or be displaced.

When men walk with God they are elevated to the place of leadership and responsibility which God gives them. They don’t have to prove a thing. They can happily have their wife and children out-perform them. They can celebrate the success of their descendents. They can rejoice in their wife’s achievements. They are not threatened by those things nor displaced by them.

It is time to dispense with the economic man. That is an unworthy model of manhood. It is time to embrace true manhood, found in God’s calling, not in human definition.

If you would like to dig into the subject of manhood take a look at my book, Manhood Horizons. Go to: http://familyhorizons.net/html/manhood.html