By Aaron D'Anthony Brown, Crosswalk.com
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11)
An important question likely arises for any boy growing up in the Christian faith, as both a reflection of aging and a maturing of character. The question is this, what does it really mean to be a man of God? Societal wisdom suggests that every child enters a transitionary period from being a child to being an adult. We regard this time as adolescence, and by the end, ideally, the teenager who becomes an adult is an adult not just by age but by character. A girl becomes a woman. And a boy becomes a man. However, for a boy to become a man of God, he must adopt a character that is not like the world but rather a reflection of Jesus.
"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)
What Does It Mean to Be a Man of God?
Answering the aforementioned question requires us to acknowledge that there is a stark contrast between how the world views men and how the Bible views men. For example, modern America does not hold men or masculinity in high regard. Masculinity receives labels such as "toxic," and the idea of the patriarchy is condemned. Contrary to these mainstream beliefs in the world, the Bible does regard men highly. All of Jesus' apostles were men, the Bible was written primarily by men, and according to Scripture, men are to be the head of the household (Ephesians 5:22-23). Man's elevation in the Bible does not equate to superiority over women. When Eve was created from Adam, she was taken from his rib (Genesis 2:22). She was not created from his foot, indicating his superiority to woman, or his head, indicating inferiority, as Dr. James M. Tour states in his sermon on the Book of Genesis. She was taken from his side. Men and women are thus equal, even when playing different roles in private or public life. Therefore, being a man of God is not something to be condemned but rather encouraged. For any boy becoming a man, or men trying to commit themselves more thoroughly to God, there is an answer to the question. Unsurprisingly, the Bible provides numerous examples of how we can each become men of God.
Here are three important male figures we can learn from.
What Is an Example of a Man of God from Scripture?
"After removing him, he raised up David as their king and testified about him, 'I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my own heart, who will carry out all my will.'" (Acts 13:22)
This recounting of God favoring David comes from the writings of Luke, a companion of Paul in the Bible. Here David is mentioned as having replaced Saul's leadership over the Israelites. From other passages in the Bible, we know that David was once a shepherd who became a king. He not only overcame the threat of Saul but defeated threats such as Goliath as well.
Did David find favor in God because of his accomplishments, or did God favor him despite his work?
What we can learn from David is that for those who believe, God is always guiding us. We have His favor because we are His children (1 Peter 2:9). David was by no means a perfect man. In one significant act of sin, he had a man murdered so he could take the man's wife as his own (2 Samuel 11:26-27). This one act of many others displeased the Lord. However, God loved David despite his sins. And David loved God. David's life reveals the struggle everyone has within themselves. We battle whether to please ourselves or to please God. While David messed up at times, he kept trying to please God. We read this explicitly in the psalms written by David, where he exalts the Lord. David gives God credit for creating him (Psalm 139:13), David acknowledges God for protecting him (Psalm 8:3-4), and David gives God total trust and authority over his life (Psalm 13:1-6).
Whether we are in a low or high point of life, pursuing God always helps us live life to the fullest because we will be living life for God, not ourselves. Pursuing God's heart doesn't mean we live life perfectly, but it does mean we strive to grow according to His desires.
What Can We Learn from Jesus about Love?
"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body." (Ephesisans 5:22-23)
The first verse could be misconstrued as what modern American society deems toxic masculinity. Without critical thinking, the verse could be interpreted as women needing to willingly submit to men no matter the circumstance. However, the second verse adds important clarification. Women are to submit to men, not for abuse or manipulation but to be loved and protected. Jesus loved the church; husbands are to love their wives.
Based on what Jesus reveals through His words and character, being a man of God involves loving our partners, including wife or girlfriend. We love with authority, protection, and direction.
For Jesus to state that wives should submit to husbands means that men have the honor and the responsibility of taking care of their counterparts. We can evaluate our success in this area simply by comparing our character to that of Jesus. We can study how Jesus treated the church and His disciples, then ask ourselves, where can we better emulate that behavior.
What Can We Learn from Paul about Faith and Redemption?
"Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Part of being a Christian and being a man is persevering under the pressure of tribulation. Suffering can come in the form of work, marriage, temptation, but in each circumstance, we have a choice in how we respond. These words from Paul point back to this truth.
No matter what happens externally, and even though we age and come closer to death by the day, we can renew our minds and souls by emulating Jesus. As we know through Jesus, we are not immune to the temptations of sin, and sometimes we may act like David and fall. Paul had his struggles too, going so far as to persecute Christians before converting to the faith.
No matter where we are in life or what we have done, God can use us to further his kingdom. He can convert us from men of the world to men of his kingdom. We simply have to be like Paul and make the choice to follow God. Then as we watch our bodies deteriorate over the years, we will still find joy knowing our spirit yearn more and more to be with God.>
How to Be a Man of God
God spoke, "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Paul wrote, "For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)
Timothy said, "But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:11)
The Father and all of these other men provide answers to the question, "What does it really mean to be a man of God?"
The complex question becomes far more understandable when immersing ourselves in Scripture. Reading what God says about manhood proves we don't need to guess or be confused by the examples the world gives. The worldly definition for men and masculinity changes with the tide of culture, but God's word remains the same because He remains the same (Hebrews 13:8). The process of being transformed into the image of Christ is not accomplished overnight. Therefore, we will likely ask this question of ourselves multiple times throughout life. Asking ourselves the question multiple times is not in itself problematic. Where we must be careful is identifying where we get our answers. We must seek answers from the proper sources; what better source of wisdom than the Bible? Scripture is replete with examples of men showing modern man how to pursue God both in word and action. The more we can be like Jesus, surely the closer we will come to God, but we will also serve as a divine example for our wives, children, friends, and community. That is being a true man of God.
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Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”