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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 15, 2008
“Will the Real Men Please Stand Up!”
A few years ago Arnold Schwartzenaggar, Governor of California, was criticized in the press for calling some of his political opponents “girly men” because they would not stand up and take the political heat for doing what was right for the state. More recently country singer Brad Paisley has a top hit on the country charts for his song, “I’m Still a Guy,” in which he talks about some of the things guys typically do and in which he criticizes those who are doing some things that are effeminate – getting facials, botox treatments, manicures, skin waxing, eye brow plucking and spray on tans.
What does it mean to be a man? I don’t mean the dictionary definition of being “an adult, male, homo sapiens,” but a “real man,” a “true man,” a “man’s man.” What qualities do such men possess? I am not going to pretend to be able to give you the final and complete definition of a man this morning, but I do propose to give you some of the major characteristics of real men. I want to give you something to think about and chew on this morning. I want you to see that being a man is more than just being an adult, male, homo sapiens.
You men and boys need to pay close attention so you know what you are supposed to be. You young ladies also need to pay attention because these are the characteristics you should be looking for in the man you will marry someday. You married ladies also need to pay attention because these are the qualities you need to encourage your husband to aspire too. Please note I said, “encourage” and not “nag.” Where you see that your husband lacks, you need to build him up, not tear him down.
I am greatly disturbed and concerned when I look at what is occurring in our society today. While there are many adult male homo sapiens, there are relatively few real men. I love to study history, so I have read about many real men in past generations and I have known quite a few real men in the generation older than mine. The percentage of real men in my own generation dropped, and it has fallen more dramatically in the generations that have followed. The prospects for the future do not look good.
A major reason for this is the current cultural confusion about what men are supposed to be. In times past, society held that certain characteristics were to be expected in men and the culture itself sought to develop those traits in their sons. Men were expected to be courageous and strong, have high ethics and act with integrity. They were expected to be courteous, kind, respectful to others. They were to be gentlemen. A real man was expected to be able to act with a certain decorum of good manners. While knowing the fine details of proper etiquette at a high society banquet was not mandatory, men were to know how to treat a lady, and if invited to a banquet, they were expected to find out how to act and then do so.
Since the 1960’s there have been anti-cultural movements that have sought to redefine the role and desired characteristics of men. There has been an increase in the emphasis of individual rights and a promotion of amorality. Children in the public schools are encouraged to question the authority of their parents. The family has been breaking down as seen in both the rate of divorce and illegitimacy. In some segments of our society, seventy plus percent of infants are born to single mothers resulting in the boys growing up without fathers. They do not have real men around to show them how to be real men. That is major reason gangs are formed.
There is confusion about what men are supposed to be like and how they are supposed to behave. Young men simply follow their own selfish impulses and do what they feel like doing. They act like animals because they are treated as such. There are social service organizations and sometimes even High Schools that pass out free condoms to teens because the basis for expecting teens to make moral decisions which require self control have been removed.
The modern feminist movement has added greatly to the cultural confusion. As the role and characteristics of women have been redefined in society by the educational society (i.e. college & universities), the media (how women are portrayed in film, television and music), and politicians (radical feminism), there has been a corresponding confusion for men on how they are supposed to act. Even simple things become confusing. Do you open the door for a woman or not? I still get a thank you most of the time, but I have run into scowls for doing that.
At one time women were taught to be shy and modest in dress. Now they are taught to be assertive and little is left to the imagination in their dress. Should it really be surprising that young men do not treat young women like ladies when few of them act like ladies? A Sinful male will take from a woman what she will give, but she will not gain love or respect. That is reserved for the woman that has self-respect and makes the man work for her affections. It is the coy, hard-to-get women that men prefer because they adore the women that is hard for other men to get.
A back lash to feminism is the modern “men’s movement.” Some of it can be helpful, but some of it is down right wacky. In an effort to get back to their “roots” and do “men things,” some strip off all or most of their clothes, beat on tom-toms and holler while dancing around a fire. No wonder the current generation is confused.
Who are the heroes for young men to pattern themselves after? What singers or Hollywood celebrities provide a positive role model? They are few and far between because so many of them tend to be self-centered, proud and narcissistic. Sports figures used to be good role models, but drug abuse, temper tantrums, philandering and exploitation of their fans leaves relatively few worthy of emulation. The shenanigans of the political elite have caused most people to hold them in disdain. It would seem that national religious leaders should provide good role models, and many do, but scandal also abounds since there are many false teachers among them.
There are certain characteristics that distinguish a real man. Story tellers throughout the ages, including the sages of old, novelists and the film industry, have understood this and given us bits and pieces of manhood usually stressing attributes such as physical strength, courage, and leadership as keys to defining a real man. These are good, but there is much more needed in a real man. China’s Mao Tse-Dung was a leader, but was he a real man? The mythological character Hercules was strong, but was he a real man? Courage is notable, especially in war, but a courageous act does not mean the fellow is a real man. The characters John Wayne played always displayed certain aspects of being a man, but were they real men?
Real men do not have to be able to bench press 250lb. They do not have to be able play football, or any other sport. They might even be confined to a wheel chair. Real men do not have to be “hunks,” nor do they have to have sexual prowess. They could be ugly, small in stature, single & celibate, a description that fits the Apostle Paul.
For the rest of this morning I want to point out certain characteristics that the Bible sets forth as the marks of a real man. We are going to be challenged by the list that is generated, but the encouraging thing about Scripture is that any Christian can develop these characteristics. In fact, God wants you to develop them. Any Christian male, that includes you and me, can be real man!
HUMILITY – The first characteristic may seem antithetical to the common notion of being a man, but a real man is humble. Humility demands that you know your weaknesses and that you are modest about strengths.
Popular culture celebrates the man that is proud, arrogant and boastful, but being that way is no big deal. Men are naturally that way because of their sin nature. If you doubt that, ask your wife. She will tell you the truth about yourself! Pride is one of man’s greatest pitfalls. It always gets him into trouble.
The Bible says much about the importance of humility. Jesus says that being “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3), which is recognizing that you have nothing to offer, nothing to bargain with and can only come begging for God’s mercy, was the key to entering into God’s kingdom. Man will not come to God if he thinks he can do it on his own, and God will not accept a man that tries to come to Him on his own merit. 1 Peter 3:6 says that we need to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Why? because (vs. 5) “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
A humble man recognizes the truth that there are others that are better than he. He recognizes his own weakness and failings. Instead of fighting against others to prove himself, he welcomes the aid of others and gives praise where praise is due and not to himself.
Moses was a real man without a doubt. He certainly displayed all the attributes even modern culture values. He withstood the greatest military power on the earth at that time – Egypt. He boldly challenged Pharaoh face to face and held the power that devastated that land. He led two million people across the wilderness. Strength, leadership, courage were all his. However, Numbers 12:13 also tells us, “Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” It is when Moses became proud that he got into serious trouble. In Numbers 20:10 Moses did not do what God commanded in providing water for the people, but instead took it upon himself to provide the miracle saying, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Moses then hit the rock rather than speaking to the rock as God commanded. The result? the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
Pride only gets man into trouble. A real man has the maturity to be humble.
Rising out of humility is the next characteristic.
MEEKNESS – SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
Meekness is not weakness. It is submission to authority. It is the combination of humility and trust. The meek man understands his own limitations and relies upon the one that is more powerful, God. This was another characteristic of Moses. He was strong, bold, and courageous, but those aspects of his character were true because he trusted God. Moses’ pride and sense of doing things by his own wisdom and might were broken by 40 years in the desert tending sheep after fleeing Egypt because he had taken the law into his own hands and had killed a cruel Egyptian taskmaster. Moses was in submission to God’s authority and willingly obeyed God’s commandments. Moses recognized that God wanted him to be part of a plan much bigger than himself. God had given Moses a mission and because He trusted God to keep His promises, God was able to use Moses mightily. No wonder God so often referred to Moses as “My servant.”
A real man is meek. He in submission to a higher authority from which he can draw strength and courage. Want to know how to gain victory over a superior enemy? Rely on an ally that is even stronger. That is why that even in spiritual battles when we face the devil and his minions who are more powerful than us, the key to our victory is in meekness. James 4:7 puts it plainly, “Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Victory begins with submission to God.
Out of meekness arise two more characteristics of real men
STRENGTH and COURAGE.
By strength I am not talking about the physical so much as the mental & emotional state of the person. A person of relatively small stature can be very strong in this sense. The apostle Paul was not a man of great physical strength. Paul’s detractors saw him as “weak,” “a spectacle,” “poor & without honor” (1 Corinthians 4:9,10; 2 Corinthians 6:10). Yet Paul was the powerhouse in taking the gospel throughout the Roman world.
William Wilberforce was cut from the same cloth as Paul. He was small in stature and his appearance was “uncommanding,” yet, to hear him speak, it is said that his stature would grow to that of a whale. Wilberforce was committed to the cause God had set before him, and with diligence and perseverance over several decades he eliminated slavery from the English empire. Wilberforce was a real man.
Courage is not something that comes up all by itself. Over and over again throughout the Bible we find admonitions to “take courage” and to be “strong and courageous.” The mind and emotion must be set and controlled by confident belief. Both Paul & Wilberforce believed God and the causes He had given them. They were courageous because they trusted God, and they were willing to suffer because they knew they were part of something much bigger than themselves. They looked past present circumstances to what would bring glory to God. They were confident He would sustain them in the present and trusted Him for their eternal future. Paul expressed this in 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 saying that he was of good courage because he walked by faith and not by sight and though he preferred rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord, his ambition was to be pleasing to the Lord. Such men are not dissuaded by the loss of standing in society or being held with contempt or suffering physically or even being a martyr. They take to heart and put into practice Jesus’ warning and encouragement in John 16:33 that though they would have tribulation in this world they could have peace and take courage because He has overcome the world.
Strength and courage mark real men. In my estimation this is one of the areas most lacking in men today. Who is willing to stand up and be counted? Who has the courage to face the scorn of this society by standing up against its debauchery? Who is willing to rise above the mundane things of life to see the bigger picture and get involved in that? Praise the Lord that there are a few. But there are even fewer that have the next characteristic.
A real man knows where he is going and brings others along. A leader has convictions and he inspires others to hold those same convictions, join with him and do something. This is a commodity sadly lacking in America today. That is especially true on the national level. Too many politicians have convictions that change with the opinion polls. They do not lead. They simply assess where the crowd is going and then try to get in front of it. Leaders state where they are going and why we all should go there. Ideology is important.
As important as this is in the political realm, there is another area where the lack of leadership has been even more devastating. That is in the home. The apostle Paul made leadership in the home a qualification for leadership in the church (1 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1). If you are not doing it in the home, you will not be doing it somewhere else.
How many men are not just letting, but forcing their wives to wear the pants in the family because of their complacency and refusal to lead? Guys who father a child outside of marriage are males, but they are not men. Guys who live with a woman but do not marry her are males, but they are not men. Guys who abandon their family so they can pursue their own desires are males, but they are not real men. Guys who let and/or force their wives to set the direction for the family are males, but they are not men. Guys who do not lead their family in the worship of the Lord, including taking them to church and making sure there are family devotions, are males, but they are not men.
Leadership is the mark of a real man, but leadership is not becoming a little dictator. There are males that do that, but they are not men. Real men lead by example and persuasion, not raw power.
This type of leadership also demands another characteristic in the man. A real man is a mentor/teacher.
Mentoring is the process of passing on the characteristics of a man to someone else. It is much more than the teaching of facts. It is the impartation of convictions and a lifestyle. Real men sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17). In the church we call it discipleship. Men find another man and train him so that he can train a another person so he can train another person, etc. etc. (2 Timothy 2:2).
The primary people for a man to train are his children. That is the importance of Deuteronmy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:3,4; Colossians 4:21; 1 Timothy 3:4,5; etc. A father is to train his children in a such a way that they will know God and be obedient to Him. That is no easy task. It will take all the characteristics I have already mentioned – humility, meekness, strength, courage, leadership. It will also take integrity which is the next characteristic of a true man.
What is integrity? It is moral soundness, wholeness. A man with integrity is honest. He keeps his word and holds fast to his principles regardless of personal cost. There is no question about this is scripture. Colossians 3:9, “Do not lie to one another . . .”. Psalm 15:4, “He swears to his own hurt , and does not change.” Proverbs 10:9, “He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out.”
Integrity is lacking in our society. Long and detailed contracts are written to try to keep businesses honest enough so trade can continue. At one time a man’s word was enough. How many of you actually believe the claims made in advertisements or by most politicians? Our highest institutions have shown their own lack of integrity including the Supreme Court which has cast aside the rule of law in favor of political whim in many of their decisions. The recent California Supreme Court decision forcing homosexual marriage upon that state is just the latest example of this. Churches are not exempt from this for scandals abound. Even whole denominations turn away from the Bible in order to be accepted by society. Men who are supposed to be godly disregard what the Scriptures teach and instead preach in such a way that they can follow the lust of their flesh, eyes and pride.
Integrity is important in institutions. It is even more important in a man. Your employer, your friends, your wife, your children all need to know that you can be trusted. They need to know how you will act and what you will do in a given situation. If you cannot be counted on, then you can have little positive impact in their lives. You will not be trusted with greater responsibilities. You will not be able to teach or lead others to godliness.
Real men keep their promises. Dads, don’t tell your children you will do something and then fail to follow through. Be up front and honest with them. Continued disappointment goes deep into the heart of a child. Dads, be consistent in front of your children. Practice what you preach. If you don’t want them to lie, then they had better not see you lie, even if it is something so simple as asking your wife to tell someone on the phone that you are not there.
What are some other characteristics of a real man?
PROVIDER – He looks out for those entrusted to his care. 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” A real man is not lazy. He does not look for a handout. He takes the admonition of 2 Thess. 3:10-13 seriously that those do not work should not eat. He has a disciplined life in providing for his own family and for others as Ephesians 4:28 directs “. . . let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.”
A FRIEND – By this I mean a friend in the truest sense, not just someone with a lot of acquaintances. A real man is friend to his wife following the Lord’s command to love her in the same way that Christ loved the church giving Himself up for her (Ephesians 5). That is sacrificial love. He puts the needs of his wife ahead of himself.
He also willingly does the same for his other friends. He takes to heart the command in Philippians 2:3,4 to be of humble heart and consider others as more important than himself so that he will look after their interests and not just his own. This is what Jesus did and He is our example. He even laid down His life for His friends which is the greatest example of love possible (John 15:13).
The bottom line of it all is that a real man is godly. In the Old Testament the Psalmist described a real man in Psalm 15:1 (A Psalm of David.) O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? 2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. 3 He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the Lord; He swears to his own hurt, and does not change; 5 He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.
In the New Testament the real man is seen in Jesus Christ, the second Adam, the perfect man. Every characteristic is perfectly displayed in Him: humility, meekness, strength, courage, leadership, mentoring, integrity, provider, friend.
If you want to be a real man, then you need to be like Christ. The good news for Christians is that is the very thing that God has been doing in your life since He saved you because He has predestined you to be conformed to the image of His son (Rom. 8:29b). Set your eyes on Him and continue to follow. You will become like Him in the process.
For those of you without Jesus Christ, you may be able to develop a lot of these qualities to some degree, but you will never be a real man according to how God describes it in the Bible. Isn’t it about time you started the process and humble yourself before Him. The Lord will take it from there.
Sermon Notes – 6/15/2008
Will the Real Men Please Stand Up! – Selected Scriptures
Reasons for Cultural Confusion:
Expectations of the characteristics & behavior of men have changed
Family breakdown has resulted in high rates of homes without dads – no one to model being a man.
Boys act like animals because they are treated like animals without expectation of self-control
Feminism has redefined the role and characteristics of women with a corresponding confusion for men
The “Men’s Movement” does some helpful things, but also a lot of wacky things
Who are your heros? __________________________ What are they like? ___________________
Strength, courage and leadership are not enough to define a real man.
CHARACTERISTICS OF “REAL MEN”
It demands you know your weaknesses & be modest about your strengths.
Matthew 5:3 – entrance into the kingdom of Heaven begins by being poor in spirit
1 Peter 3:5,6 – God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble
Moses had strength, leadership and courage – he was very humble
Pride gets men into trouble
Meekness. It is not weakness, it is power under control by submission to authority.
The meek man understands his own limitations and relies upon the one who is more powerful – God Moses was in submission to God’s authority and willingly obeyed God’s commandments
Meekness is the key to victory even in spiritual battles – James 4:7
Strength and Courage:
Not physical ability, but the mental & emotional state
Paul was seen as “weak,” “a spectacle,” “poor & without honor,” but he was a powerhouse of missions
William Willberforce was “uncommanding,” but God used him to eliminate slavery in England
The mind and emotion must be set and controlled by confident belief for courage to be present
They were willing to suffer because they knew they were part of something much bigger than themselves
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 – You must walk by faith and your ambition must be to please the Lord
A leader has convictions and he inspires others to join with him and do something.
The leadership given in the home demonstrates the leadership that would be given other places
Real men lead by example and persuasion not raw power.
Mentoring is the process of passing on the characteristics of one person to another
Integrity is moral soundness, wholeness.
If you cannot be trusted, be counted on, you will have little positive impact on the lives of others
Real men keep their promises
He looks out for those entrusted to his care – 1 Timothy 5:8
2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 – Those who will not work should not eat
Ephesians 4:28 – We work so that we will have something to share with others.
He is a friend to his wife, loving her, sacrificing of himself for her – Ephesians 5
Philippians 2:3,4 – He humbly considers others as more important than himself
Godly – Psalm 15 expresses the characteristics of the godly man.
Like Jesus – He displays the perfect example of all the characteristics of being a real man.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “man” or “men” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents what it means to be a “real man.”
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What is your definition of a “man.” How does your definition differ from others? Why do you think there is such a confusion in our culture about what a man should be? Who are your heroes? Who are the heroes of the kids in your neighborhood? What heroes / role models would you want them to be like? What is humility? What does it have to do with being a man? Name some “real men” who were humble. What is the problem with pride in a man? What is meekness? How does it compare with humility? How does meekness contribute to the making of a “real man?” What is the relationship between strength and courage? What is the source of courage? Does a man have to be physically strong to have strength and courage? What would help you be more courageous? Define leadership? What is the difference between a politician and a statesman? What is the difference between being a male and being a man? Why do so many men refuse to lead their families? Is this a problem in your family? How can it be changed? Why is a dictator not a real man? How do real men lead? What effect does a real man have on other people? Who are the primary people a man is supposed to train? What is integrity & why is it so important? What do real men provide? How do they provide it? Describe the friendship of a real man? Name examples of “real men” – past or current. Why do you regard them as “real men.” What can/should you do if you ( your husband) falls short of being a real man? How will you train your sons to be “real men.”
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