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.

Every Man a Statesman

The Power of One is amplified for us in the Bible, where we see that just One person can impact an entire city.

That person doesn’t need to be famous, or excel the others in physique, academics, business, strength, power, good looks or the many things we give people credit for. That ‘one’ person only needs to be in right standing with God.

The Bible Account of a Man

The Bible shows us that every man can be a powerful, city-changing statesman. That capacity is built into the spiritual DNA of each man.

Have a look at Jeremiah 5:1 and see what I’m talking about.

“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

God looked for just one man who would do what is right in Jerusalem and God would have spared the whole city.

Any Man Could Do the Job

Any one of the men in the city could have fulfilled that role. The man could have been a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. The issue was not of the man’s personal wealth, political position, military might, social influence or physical strength. The man could have been a virtual unknown in the whole city.

God was looking for a man of godly character. On the basis of that right character the man would have been the Statesman who could do business with God for the whole city.

Every man, therefore, is a Statesman waiting to emerge and fulfil divine destiny for cities and nations.

What is a Statesman?

Why do I use the term ‘statesman‘? A Statesman is “One occupied with the affairs of government, and influential in shaping its policy.”

The highest form of Government is the Government of God (see my other blog posts on the topic “Government of God”). One who influences God in His government of human affairs is a most powerful statesman indeed. How would you like to shape God’s “policy” regarding your nation? How would you like to shape God’s policy regarding the Politician’s policies for your nation?

Do not underestimate your own authority in the highest Courtroom and Throne Room in the Universe. You don’t need to recruit a stadium full of prayer warriors to be that one man. You don’t need to be the most influential religious leader on earth to change God’s policies about what He is doing in the nations.

The Right Kind of Man

All you need to be is a man of God who is able to stand in His presence, with nothing but Righteousness to your record. In fact all you really need to do, according to Jeremiah 5:1, is to execute judgment and seek the truth. However we are talking here about God’s judgement, not your human opinions. And we are talking about God’s truth, not relativist human concepts of reality. Live in the bounds of those two things and you are ready to change history!

Where Manhood Stands Tallest

Where do you find manhood most visible and evident? If you were looking for manhood among the men of your city in which forum would you be most likely to find it?

My manhood journey began with the understanding that I had abdicated my headship as the husband within my marriage. So is marriage the place where manhood is to be identified?

Others recognise that their father displays real manhood, ruling his household with authority and setting up the next generation for authority and success in the following generation. So, is the family the forum in which manhood stands tallest?

What about those men who are giants of industry, outstanding political leaders, commanders of men, men of supreme personal talent and ability and so on? There are several places where outstanding men might stand out. Which of those places is the one where manhood is at its most potent?

Job’s Example

Job exemplified the self-sacrificing character of real manhood in his dealings with men. He was a political leader (he had a seat at the gate of the city – where the civic leaders exercised their leadership). He was totally selfless in his care for the needy, such as the disabled, widowed and helpless. He had a large family that honoured him. He had vast wealth and enterprise. See Job 29:7-17.

Yet Job was called into another forum to have his manhood tested. That forum was God’s presence. God called him to account for himself. Job did not achieve his greatest manhood until he accepted that call, which took him two attempts. See Job 38:3 and 40:7.

The Throne Room

Truest manhood has always been found in men who will do business with God. Men who hid from God’s presence lost their manhood, like Adam hiding after breaking God’s command. But men who were willing to run into God’s presence were those who God favoured the most readily.

King David was guilty of adultery and murder and he tried to hide his sin at first. Then the prophet came and convicted him. At that moment David did not go to Bathsheba’s family for reconciliation. Nor did he try to put things right with the family of her dead husband or with the people of Israel. Instead he ran into God’s presence and declared, “I have sinned against You!”

Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight: that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge.” Psalm 51:4

Men who will enter the throne room, obedient to God’s earthly requirements for their lives, but also willing to do business with God, stand out as the real men of history.

Face to Face With God

Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Paul did business face to face with God. They were statesmen and commanders of men. They and others like them found the true forum for real manhood.

Your own manhood will not become what it is supposed to be until and unless you do business with God, face to face in the throne-room.

The Other Throne

The first throne where manhood is to be found is actually the heart of man. A real man does not have himself on the throne of his life. His heart is committed to God and he will do what God wants him to do. He will live his life sacrificially on behalf of others. He will be a defender and a rewarder, not a self-indulger.

Job had such a heart, as seen in his life of sacrificial benefit to others who needed assistance. His life was not his own, but was spent in blessing others, loving his neighbour and giving himself sacrificially.

Any man who lives life as if it is his own property for him to use as makes him happy is not a man at all.

Real men have done business at two thrones. They have the Lord God on the throne of their own heart, as the Lord of their life. Consequently they live their life sacrificially for others. They have also been into the throne room of God’s presence and invited God to do business with them, as they do business with Him.

Look in the Right Place

Don’t go looking for real men in the fitness centre. Don’t go to the discos looking for real men. Don’t even be impressed with the way their wife and children seem to give due respect to them.

Don’t look for the list of the richest men or winners of the “man of the year” award.

It is hard to see the heart of a man or to know if he has been into God’s presence or not. But the way a man lives his life for others, responds to God’s claim on his life and does business with God are the surest indicators of whether the man is a Real Man or not.

Equality of Men and Women

A question I get asked around the world is how women can be expected to be under the authority of their husband when the Bible says that men and women are equal. This is an important question and one that I have an answer for.

The Problem

The Bible clearly teaches that women are made to take a different role on the earth than that of the man. Yet today’s egalitarian and feminist motivations resist that Biblical position. Then there is the Bible text which teaches that men and women are equal before God.

How do we reconcile those seemingly contradictory Biblical positions? How can a woman be expected to take a place different to the man while the Bible says there is no difference between the man and the woman?

The Woman in a Different Place to Man

The Bible repeatedly reveals that men and women are different, in both the Old and New Testaments. Men and Women are different in their creation – Adam from the dust of the earth and Eve from the side of the man. They are also different in their purpose – Adam to be in the image of God and Eve to be as a helper for her husband. When God cursed the man and woman after the fall He gave unique and distinct punishments to the woman to the man.

In the New Testament we find that wives are asked to behave toward their husbands differently to the way husbands are asked to behave toward their wives. Instructions are given to the men to pray with uplifted hands and the women are given instructions about their beauty. Men and women are treated differently in both the old and new testaments.

God’s Hierarchy

I often refer to the authority hierarchy which God gives us through the Apostle Paul, in 1Corinthians 11:3. There we see that the man and woman are put in a completely separate place under God’s authority.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3

On the strength of this hierarchy and the other Bible texts about women a case has been made throughout church history for a different role for women in the church to that of men. That is still a hot issue today.

The Equality Issue

Apart from feminist notions and demands for equality the Bible gives a proof text to support the idea of equality between men and women.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

Some people have been taught, on the strength of Galatians 3:28, that all distinctions between men and women have been done away with in Christ. A Christian woman should be allowed to do all that a Christian man would be allowed to do.

So how to do we reconcile the distinction between these two competing truths? Women have a different place to men, yet women are equal. How can that be?

The Setting

The simple answer to this dilemma is in the setting these two seemingly competitive truths refer to. In Paul’s statement about the equality of men and women he also mentions other things which are now equal in Christ. He mentions Jews and Greeks and slaves and freemen. Slaves and freemen are equal in Christ, yet when a slave becomes a Christian he or she is still a slave. When a Greek becomes a Christian he or she is still a Greek.

Before the throne of God Greeks and Jews are equal in Christ. Yet in the setting on earth the Greek is under Greek customs and government and the Jew is under Jewish customs and government.

Standing before the throne of God a slave and a freeman have the same rights to enter into relationship with God and to expect God’s grace and power on their behalf. But in the earthly setting the slave must get up each day and do the will of his master/employer.

So there are two settings in which our personal reality is worked out. Those settings are the setting of heaven and the setting of our earthly circumstances. We can be one thing in one of those settings and yet have a different set of constraints in the other

The Setting for Women

Women operate in two settings. On earth they are created to be a very effective part of their husband’s world. They are created as helpers and put in a place under the care and authority of the husband. That is their earthly setting.

In Christ, however, before the throne of God, a woman has the same rights to God’s forgiveness, grace and blessing as any man could hope to have. Before God’s throne there is no difference between a man and a woman. They are equal and indistinguishable. That is the great elevation of womanhood that comes through the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Equality is God’s Gift to Women

God gives women equality that they are often denied in homes and cultures. While women have responsibilities for which they are accountable before God, they also have full and undiluted personal status before God’s throne. The prayers of a woman are as valid in God’s ears as the prayers of any man.

Positionally, before God’s throne, women enjoy wonderful liberty and equality. Functionally, in the various roles they are given on earth, each woman has a place to take and a part to play that is under the authority of her husband.

Born as a Free Man

Freedom is something that westerners take for granted. Consequently we don’t really know what it is. And consequently many Bible truths remain undiscovered, because we do not have a frame of reference for them.

The Son will set you free. The Truth will set you free. Stand strong in your freedom. A Christian slave is God’s “free” man. These Bible concepts are nothing more than mere poetry to most people.

John Freeman

As a young married man I had a friend from church named John Freeman. He and his wife were from some place in Scandinavia and his original name was hard for English men to pronounce. So he chose a new name when he came to Australia. He chose to be called a Free Man. So he took the name, John Freeman.

However, this man was not truly free. Several times he told me that he is not such a nice man as he presented to be. He seemed to be carrying some kind of shame and cloud from his past. He wanted to be a free man, and he had taken that as his name, but he was not free at all. His past mess was still in his heart.

Born Free

The book and film, Born Free, celebrated the freedom given to lions born in the wild. But it is not only lions who are born to be free. All humans are meant to be born as free people who can pursue their life with liberty.

John Freeman had been born free but he had somehow compromised that freedom, possibly through sin and failure. He tried to enshrine freedom by his new name, but the real freedom he had been born with was damaged and lost, somehow.

Buying Freedom

In some cultures freedom belongs to the minority. Israel in the promised land had various captive people’s living among them. These other nations were supposed to be destroyed, but were not. So those nations were slaves and servants to the Israelites. The Israelis had freedom, but not the others.

The same was true in the Roman Empire. Certain cities and places were considered to be the preserve of the Romans. Those who were born there were born as free men. Others could become citizens, but only at great cost.

The Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus, which was one of those places afforded citizenship status in the Roman Empire. So Paul was born as a free man. On one occasion, when he had been hastily arrested, his captors feared because they had imprisoned a free man.

“Then the chief captain came, and said to him, Tell me, are you a Roman? He said, Yes. And the chief captain answered, I paid a great sum for this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. The examiners immediately left him: and the chief captain was also afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.” Acts 22:27-29

Freedom Lost

You were not born to be slaves, but born to be free men. However it is possible to lose the freedom that is rightly yours. This is done by making wrong choices.

The Prophet Jeremiah challenged the nation of Israel that they were not born to be slaves, but he pointed out that they were slaves, because they had rejected God’s leading.

“Is Israel a servant? Is he a home-born slave? Why is he spoiled?” Jeremiah 2:14

The answer is that Israel is not a servant or a home-born slave. So he should not be exploited by others who have power over him.

“Have you not procured this to yourself, in that you have forsaken the LORD your God, when he led you by the way?” Jeremiah 2:17

Israel had lost its freedom by forsaking God and rejecting His leading.

Preserve Your Birthright

You are born to be free. So don’t despise your birthright. Esau did that and could not get back what he lost, despite his bitter tears.

If you think nothing of your freedom it will become the ‘nothing’ that you think it is. So don’t be irresponsible with your freedom. Some people have paid an enormous price for theirs, and people have paid a terrible price to give you yours.