He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Mic. 6:8)
What does it mean to be a man? The answers are as varied as the people who give them. Some would point to genetics, anatomy, or character. Others measure men by their accomplishments, by the battles they fight or trials they overcome. The first man (like the first woman) was created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27), and was given specific responsibilities (Gen. 2:15-18). God created the man to be in a relationship with Him, to think and act in ways that conform to His character. Man was also created to be in a relationship with a woman (Gen. 2:21-25). However, since the historical fall (Gen. 3:1-7), manhood has been diminished and perverted, as men seek to define themselves independently of God and contrary to His original design. The world has many worthless men (Deut. 13:13; Prov. 6:12-14; 16:27-28), and some have perverted their relationship with women (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:24-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). But the godly man delights himself in the ways of the Lord (Ps. 1:1-3), loves his wife (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19), walks humbly, and pursues righteousness, justice and love (Ps. 132:9; Mic. 6:8; Tit. 2:11-12).
There is no greater expression of manhood than the Lord Jesus Christ. The eternal Son of God became a man (John 1:1, 14), manifested grace (John 1:17), lived holy (John 6:69; Heb. 7:26), faced adversity with Scripture (Matt. 4:1-11), and perpetually pleased His Father (John 8:29). He came not to be served, “but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He always spoke truth, both strong and gentle (Matt. 23:13-39; John 8:1-11), even in the face of hostility (John 8:40). He welcomed children (Matt. 19:13-14), cared for the sick (Matt. 8:14-16; 14:14), fed the hungry (Mark 6:35-44), and made the humble feel loved and forgiven (Luke 7:36-50). The King of kings and Lord of lords manifested Himself as the Servant of servants when He humbled Himself and washed the feet of His disciples that they might learn humility (John 13:1-17). By the end of His earthly life He’d completed His Father’s work, saying, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4), then He faced the cross and laid down His life for others (John 10:11, 15, 17; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). The Giver of life has given His life that others might know His Father’s love (1 John 3:16).
A man, in the biblical sense, is a man who models his life after Christ. He is a Christian in the fullest sense of the word. He is, first and foremost, in a relationship with the Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, and has been born again into a new life (1 Pet. 1:3). He puts on “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12), and denies “ungodliness and worldly desires” and lives “sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit 2:12). He continually studies Scripture in order to live God’s will (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18), and strives toward spiritual maturity (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 4:11-16). He regards others as more important than himself, and looks out for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4). He is filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and walks in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). He lives in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-7), trusting Him to guide and sustain him in all things. His life is being transformed, to think and act less like the world (Rom. 12:1-2), and conform to the image of the One who saved him (Rom. 8:29). He does not love the world (1 John 2:15-17), but shows gracious love to his enemies who live in the world (Matt. 5:43-45; Rom. 12:19-21). He shows love within the body of Christ (1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 3:23), and helps the needy, widows and orphans (Jam. 1:27). As a son, he honors his father and mother (Eph. 6:1-3), as a husband, he loves his wife as Christ loves the church, providing, protecting, and honoring her always (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19; 1 Pet. 3:7), and as a father, he teaches his children the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4; cf. Deut. 6:5-7). These are not all of the characteristics of the mature Christian man, but they are among the most important.
Steven R. Cook, M. Div.