The Significance of a Real Man in a Real World
In Ezekiel 22:30, God sought for a man to be an intercessor. He fully understood the significance of the value of one man to do the will and purpose of God. Biblical history would have been different without a Moses or Apostle Paul. The contrasts of two generations are vividly illustrated in the lives of Hezekiah and Manasseh. Hezekiah turned a nation towards Jehovah only to have his son Manasseh, to lead them astray. The impact of the life of Manasseh for evil is shocking indeed. He caused pain and suffering that transcended many generations of Israelites. The power of his influence was so strong that he led an entire nation into idolatry and they followed him like gullible trusting sheep.
God said, “And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 15:4)
The significance of a man and his influence for evil is displayed in the lives of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler while the opposite is shown in the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and Jonas Salk who influenced their world for good. The apostles turned their world upside down and were responsible for great revival in their generation. Men are often visionaries and due to their restless nature are not satisfied with the status quo constantly pushing the envelope and expanding horizons. They become instigators for spiritual causes and change the world around them. They leave tracks in the snow and footprints in the dust for others to emulate. We can be living thermostats and alter our spiritual environment. A man may live in a rural area but the power of his intercessory prayer will touch continents beyond the horizons of his neighborhood. It doesn’t matter how obscure the cocoon that we live in, there exists a circle of influence that surrounds us and the ripples of life reach further than we often realize. Men tend to keep their fences high and don’t allow themselves to be vulnerable but their influence is still strong in spite of their introverted nature. He may exhibit a stubborn streak and some would consider him frugal but will empty his wallet in a missionary service. The significance of a man and his life has lasting effects that goes beyond his generation and real man bear the weight of that responsibility with honor and dignity.
The images of manhood for most of us is best described in terminology such as courage, fortitude, loyalty, strength, and a square shooter. Furthermore, an Apostolic man is one who fears God and keeps His commandments. The enduring qualities of manhood are never out of vogue even in a world of changing times to those who will honestly admit it. The cry of the ages is still, “Give us a man.”
In the church, our lives are greatly affected by the positive influence of men who are real men in a real world. This transcends generations and the significance of godly men in our lives affects our past, present and future. Whether those in the past were ministers, Sunday school teachers or involved in other aspects of ministry, only eternity will reveal the value of their eternal investments in others. We are all on this vast conveyor belt of history and we each play our part on this moving stage of life. For so many of us, fathers who exemplified Christian qualities impacted our lives. The spiritual leadership of a father and the sounds of prayer in our homes long ago still echoes and resonates in every fiber of our being.
The measure of a man in our contemporary society today outside the church is different from the yardstick God uses. They look at the size of his biceps, physical stature, and ability to toss a football or the net worth of his holdings. If a man is successful, many refer to him as a self made man who did it, “My way.”
Some seek to degrade manhood and they have emasculated and reduced them to spineless creatures that have become couch potatoes interested only in sports, trash television and reading unwholesome magazines. The rise of feminism has diminished his role as a man, a husband or a father and this has created frustration and sometimes even violent behavior. Some are confused as to what may be expected of them now in the twenty first century. The Lord has not changed and still has godly principles for men to live by that are relevant in our modern society.
We live in a real world in changing times. We are not living in the 1940’s or 1950’s now where life seemed simpler and the pace of life was slower. For most of us, the white bungalow with the picket fence is a fabrication of books and nostalgia. The daily ritual of watching Dad leave for work clutching his metal lunch pail is from a different era. Our society is replete with violence, gangs, wars on distant shores and escalating costs of living. Situation ethics has replaced absolute moral values and many have sought to push God out of schools, and the Ten Commandments are banished from court rooms. The pressure cooker of uncertain times creates anxieties that forces men to make decisions in which they desperately need the help of God. Real men recognize their reliance on God and turn to Him in prayer.
This is not diminishing the influence of godly mothers but since men are the leaders, we need real men today to stand tall and meet the challenges of life. One of the true tests of the character of a man is how they face these challenges. These tests may be storms of life that blow against the sails and threaten to swamp us under the weight of crashing waves. Success can bring its own opportunities to be overcome with pride, self sufficiency and arrogance. We must keep our priorities in their proper order and always, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”
Some of the men whom I have been privileged to know as ministers and laymen that affect others greatly cover the spectrum in age and experience. I have known young men who were wise beyond their years. I have been honored to sit in the presence of aged elders who blessed me with their words. I observed their lined faces, stooped posture and wrinkled hands that gestured in symphony with their spoken gems of wisdom that was accompanied by misty eyes and emotion. The significance of these real men and the power of their lasting influence are worth more than pearls and diamonds. They are leaving their mark on the generations to follow them.
We men are a unique combination of contrasts. We cringe if someone calls us a sissy but melt in tears when our daughter marries her sweetheart. I have seen a man with the calloused hands of manual labor hold and tenderly caress his newborn baby with his face filled with pride. We like softball games, pitching horseshoes, old cars and fishing all night with our son. Our interests might include home hobby projects, tending a garden or golfing but with our sometimes rough exterior, we can become like butter when our spouse tells us that she loves us.
The world says that men aren’t supposed to cry openly and we are to be macho but I’ve witnessed men who were broken and wept openly in the presence of God. These same men who were in submission to God were later resolute and strong in the face of temptation and compromise. They stood with a jutted jaw and stiff back when the enemy tried to allure them with an offer that he thought was too hard to resist.
During biblical times, men used signet rings to sign documents that were of impressionable material before it dried and became hard. That impression represented their distinct mark for legal purposes. It was their signature of that time in history.
The people that we meet daily are living clay in which we leave the imprint of our testimony. We are continually leaving a mark on others as we go through life. Our life has consequences and even more so to those closest to us such as family members. Our words and actions are having their effect so it is vital to be a good example. We want to be fruit bearing believers producing the fruits of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.
The Word of God is relevant as always to be the measuring yardstick of manhood.
God doesn’t look on the physical stature as He told Samuel when he was about to anoint a king for Israel. God looks on the inside as to the condition of the heart. The inward qualities such as compassion, sincerity, honesty, a forgiving spirit and a teachable attitude are desired character traits. A man who is loyal to his pastor and lives by principles instead of convenience will affect others and be a living testimony of God’s redemption. He takes his wedding vows seriously and is faithful to his wife and family. The words, duty, honor and country resonate with him. His motto for life is still, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The significance and potential within a man that will give himself to God is measureless. A man is not superman and we have faults and failures but we turn to God in prayer for His assistance and direction. We are on a life long quest to be the man He wants us to be. We can be a real man in a real world.
- Denzil Holman