Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Family Man: Be a Man (of God)

As we plunge forward in our look at the Christian family, we must put first things first. We must recognize that men are intended to be the head of the family. There are instances in which this is impossible, but we are concerned with what the norm is intended to be.

To that end, I will start by looking at the role of man. First a little Biblical background on “manness.”

Man was created first; before woman. In Genesis 2 (particularly in verses 4-7 and 20-23) we read about the creation of the world. This is called the Creation Ordinance. The Apostle Paul uses this understanding often in explaining the roles of men and women. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 we read, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

Man was created with work to do. Right from the beginning there were tasks for man. He had animals to name and gardens to care for (although there couldn’t have been a lot to do since agriculture didn’t get difficult until the fall, chronicled in Genesis 3).

Man was created with responsibility. Did you ever ask yourself why Adam got the rap for the 1st sin? He was created to be responsible, to be the leader. It was his job to protect Eve from sin, not join her in it.

As men, we need to remember what God has told us to do. A good outline for what we may call “Biblical Manliness” may be found in Micah 6:8. Obviously this is a mere outline. It’s not complete, there are literally hundreds of verses in Scripture which give us a “job description.” But look at this one:

He has showed you, O man, what is good.

And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

Act Justly
A man of God is a man who seeks to have justice done to the best of his ability. We cannot all be high officials in the government and we can’t control what goes on in all the world, but we can seek justice in our own little part of the world. And we can act in a just, that is right, proper manner to all around us. What this really means is that we need to stand up and be counted. We must be a buffer between them and trouble. We can’t let them suffer when we can take on the suffering on their behalf. Men need to have a “Titanic” attitude. Women and children should go first; they should get the lifeboats; we should leap in front of them to stop bullets, verbal assaults, and other potential calamities of life.

In addition to that, we also need to treat people with fairness, paying debts that are owed (monetary and otherwise) and teaching our families to follow these same practices. Give everyone their due, whether it be your boss, your employees, your family, people on a committee you chair, your neighbors. This is how we should see our role in our own families – and expanded to our church family. It’s not about being macho – it’s about doing what’s right.

Love Mercy
Be kind to people. Be merciful and compassionate to everybody, not using severity towards any. Be helpful; reach out to the needy in the community, the church. Be involved in mercy ministries such as crisis pregnancy centers, Christian camps; the Deacons Fund at the church, Tsunami relief, etc, etc. Teach your family members, by your example, about mercy.

Walk Humbly with your God
Have fellowship with God. How do we do this? Through prayer, worship, study, meditation, regular attendance at church – for worship services and other meetings such as Bible studies. This is really the most important part of the three-fold command in this verse. It is the basis for the others. It is because of the relationship between us and God that we can have positive relationships with people. In 1 John 4:19, we read “We love because He first loved us.” We have to get close to Him.

Question: Men, do you have a regular quiet time? Do you have a time when you read God’s Word? Do you have a regular devotional routine? Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day – but hold the tension; don’t get lazy.

Note on manliness and age.
There’s no upper or lower age limit on Biblical manliness. Look at David. As a youth he was called by God “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was a shepherd boy, the youngest of eight children. He was so young that his father didn’t even bother to send for him when Samuel the prophet arrived to anoint one of his sons. David was a Biblical, Godly man.

What about the other end of the scale? Consider Caleb. At the age of 85 he was ready to go out and do battle, physical warfare, on behalf of the Lord. (You can read about Caleb at Deuteronomy 1:26-36 and Joshua 14:10-12.).

This is a bit of a lengthy installment, but I did want to get across the point that in order for families to be strong, Dad has to step up and “be the man.” Next time I’ll write about “Being Her Man.”