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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 18, 2000
Will The Real Men Please Stand Up!
Today is “Father’s Day” and I will be speaking about what it means to be a “real man” today. 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.
Man – the most simple definition is “an adult, male, homo sapiens.” The random house dictionary has 20 other definitions of what the word can mean and how it can be used, but none of these individually or collectively define the “real man,” the “true man,” the “man’s man.” I am not going to pretend to be able to give you the final and complete definition of a man myself this morning, but I do propose to give you some of the major characteristics of real men. I will give you something to think about and chew on this morning.
I am greatly disturbed and concerned when I look at what is occurring in our society today. I find there are many adult male homo sapiens, but tragically, 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 me, but I have found few real men in the current generation and the prospect for real men in the next generation is even less.
Part of the 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 to find out how to act and then do so.
In the past few decades, there have arose several 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. This is 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 boys growing up without fathers. They are confused as to what they are supposed to be. Young men simply follow their own selfish impulses and so “what is right in his own eyes.” They act like animals because they are treated as such. Free condoms are available in the High Schools because the basis for expecting teens to make moral, self controlled decisions has 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.
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? Sinful man 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 heros for young men to pattern themselves after? Snoop-doggy-dog? 2 Pac Shukar? Kurt Kolbain? Gerry Garcia? Michael Jackson? How about the Hollywood celebrities – the characters on “Friends” or “Melrose Place”? Hugh Grant? Favio? Sports figures like O.J. Simpson? Magic Johnson? or Dennis Rodman? How about our political leaders? President Clinton is not the only one that does not know the truth from a lie nor is he the only one whose convictions change with the latest opinion polls. Then there are the national “religious” figures – Louis Farrakahn, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Paul Crouch and Benny Hinn? Do Rambo or James Bond display for us what a man is supposed to be? Or is it the opposite the model – Elton John & Richard Simmons? Are they men?
There are certain characteristics that distinguish a real man. Story tellers throughout the ages, whether the sages of old, novelists or Hollywood, have understood this and given us bits and pieces 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 – like 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!
The first characteristic I may seem antithetical to the common notion of being a man, but a real man is humble.
* HUMILITY – humility demands that you know your weaknesses and that you are modest about strengths.
Popular culturally 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” (Mt. 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 more powerful than he. He recognizes his own weakness and failings. Instead of fighting against those powers, he welcomes their aid 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. But Moses was also characterized as being “the meekest man in all the earth” (Numb. 12:13). It is when he 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. A real man is meek.
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. As already mentioned, Moses was a meek man. He was not weak. 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 willing 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.” Yet Paul was the powerhouse in taking the gospel throughout the Roman world.
William Wilberforce was cut from the same cloth as Paul. He 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 eliminated slavery from the English empire. Wilberforce was a real man.
But notice in both of these men that strength of mind and emotion was accompanied by fearless courage. They were willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause God had given to them, and sacrifice they did. Both men spent their lives pursuing their cause. They lost their standing in society and were held with contempt. Both suffered physically, and Paul eventually became a martyr.
Strength and courage mark real men. It is there because they know they are part of a mission much bigger than themselves and in meekness they submit and follow their Lord’s commands. To be honest I think 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.
* LEADERSHIP –
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, the 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, is there is another area where the lack of leadership has been even more devastating. That is in the home. 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 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. No wonder the apostle Paul made leadership in the home a qualification for leadership in the church (1 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1). If you are not doing it in the home, you will not be doing it somewhere else.
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 (Prov. 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 Tim 2:2).
The primary people for a man to train are his children. That is the importance of Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:3,4; Col. 4:21; 1 Tim. 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 – 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, he holds fast to his principles regardless of personal cost. There is no question about this is scripture. Col. 3:9 – “Do not lie to one another…”. Prov. 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. Church scandals abound. Even 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 what they preach to 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 don’t 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 Eph. 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.”
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 (Eph. 5), giving Himself up for her. That is sacrificial love. He puts the needs of his wife ahead of himself. He willingly does the same for his friends even as Jesus has done for us.
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 Study Sheets
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 defintion 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? Does a man have to be physically strong to have strength and courage? 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.”
Sermon Notes – 6/18/2000 a.m.
Will the Real Men Please Stand Up! – Selected Scriptures
What are men supposed to be?
The “Men’s Movement”
Modern Heroes / Role Models
CHARACTERISTICS OF “REAL MEN”
Humility: It demands you know your _________________ & be ____________ about your strengths.
Meekness. It is not weakness, it is _______________ to authority.
Submission – James 4:7
Strength and Courage: Not physical, but ________________ & _________________
Courage arises from seeing yourself as part of something much bigger than yourself
Leadership: A leader has _______________ and he inspires others to hold those same ___________, join
with him and do something.
Real men lead by _________________ and _______________, not raw power.
Mentor/teacher: Mentoring is the process of passing on the __________________ of a man to another.
Integrity: It is ____________ soundness, wholeness.
Real men keep their promises.
Provider: He looks out for those entrusted to his care
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