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The image of a real man is confused in our society. There are a lot of mixed messages in the world. Men themselves often don't have a clear idea of who they are and who they should be. TV comedies often show men or husbands as bumbling fools. The opposite image is the tough, independent man rebelling at authority and destroying all his enemies in an orgy of blood. A look around at society shows men who dress like women, like long female-style hair, wear female jewelry, and in general have no idea that men and women are different other than in their sexual organs. Of course, much "romance" writing and pornographic material reduce man to a single-minded sex crazy maniac.
So what is a real man? Will the real man please stand up. In order to learn what the role of a real man should be like, we will have to look at the purpose for which he was created and at the examples provided in Scripture. There have only been two perfect men in the history of the world: Adam and Jesus Christ. Of course, Adam did not last long - probably about 24 hours.
We need to know a couple of things about mankind in general [male and female] before we look specifically at the role of a man. Genesis 1:27-31 deals with the creation of Adam and Eve as a unit. Genesis 2 gives the details about how Adam and Eve were specifically created.
What we need to note in Genesis 1 is that both Adam and Eve are stated to be created in the image of God [vs. 27]. Individually and as a unit they were created to reflect the image of God. Both of them were blessed and BOTH of them were given dominion over the earth. Dominion is the right to rule [under God], to manage, to develop, to harness. The earth with all its creatures were given to them to manage and develop to its full potential under the direction of God.
The command to have dominion has been perverted by sin into the lust to dominate. Godly dominion is developing and managing things to their greatest potential for the benefit of all. Domination is the wanton destruction and brutal control over all things for personal benefit. It is important to note that neither Adam nor Eve was given dominion over each other or over the future human race. They were to work as partners to fulfill God's command. Although some responsibility-avoiding Christians disagree, this command to have dominion over the earth has never been withdrawn. It has been greatly complicated by sin, but it is still the original purpose and drive for mankind.
After the summary of the creation of mankind in Genesis 1, we are given the details in Genesis 2 and begin to see the different purposes in male and female. Here is where we will start to see the purpose of a man and who he is.
With all the rest of creation, God spoke and it was so. It was different with man. God took special care to form man from the dust of the earth. This creating of the crowning achievement of creation took time. Not that God could not have done it in a split second, but the investing of time showed value. Man was more valuable than the rest of creation. He was made of the dust so that he would be humble and could identify with that with which he was to rule over. On the other hand, he had the breath of God in him. His soul reached to heaven. He was of the earth, but made for the heavens. Unlike the rest of creation, he has not limited to the physical realm. His soul and spirit could commune with God in the spiritual realm.
Next we see that man's God-given purpose is to work. It was stated even before man was created [vs. 5] that work was his purpose. Work is not part of the curse. Hard, difficult, frustrating work is a result of the curse, but work itself is a blessing. One of the primarily focuses in a man's life is his work. He wants to feel happy and fulfilled in his job. A job is much more than a paycheck. A man needs to feel that he is accomplishing something worthwhile. A meaningless or constantly frustrating job breaks his spirit. A man in such a job [if he cannot find another one] should look for hobbies or volunteer work that can give him a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Work is one of the driving forces in a man. This is one reason why men, when they retire, if they do not have something productive to do or goals to accomplish often give up on life.
Adam received God's commands and was responsible to carry them out. A man is to study the Word of God to know what God says and how to correctly apply it in his life and in the world around him. A man is to be a spiritual leader in very practical ways. Adam had to obey. He was not independent. He needed to depend on God, learn from Him, and obey Him. Knowledge was not to be only theory, it has practical - life and death - implications. The Word of God brings life, knowing and correctly applying it are life and death activities.
Man was created first. He had the responsibility of passing on the knowledge given to him by God. He was to teach Eve and later his children. True, everyone [male and female] is responsible for knowing God and studying the Word of God for themselves, but man also has the additional responsibility of training and teaching in which his wife is to be a helper.
Adam had to work before he was given a wife. He had to prove that he was a responsible man, able and willing to obey God as well as provide for his wife. A real man never considers marriage until he is able to provide spiritual leadership for his wife, provide for her physical necessities, and provide for her emotional needs.
Adam recognized Eve as a part of himself to be treasured. She, too, was a special creation of God equal in value to himself. Adam recognized that he was no longer a single individual but had been united to his wife as a single unit.
What have we learned about who man is and what his purpose is?
1. Man is a special, valuable creation. As such he is not to be down-graded, insulted, or laughed at. He is in the image of God, to insult or misrepresent him is to hurl a insult at God. The image of God is, of course, greatly marred by sin but the redeemed man can hold his head high as he is in the process of being restored to true manhood.
2. Man is created to have fellowship with God. He will never discover who he is, define his purpose, or reach his destiny outside of God. The unredeemed man can never be a real man in the fullest sense of the word. However, this does not mean he is to be treated with disrespect because he is still created in the image of God.
3. Man is made to work. No matter what kind of job it is, he needs to feel that he is accomplishing something worthwhile. A job that one man may feel bored with may thrill another man. We are all different, but we all need to work. Constant welfare is one of the most effective ways to destroy a man.
4. Man is made to know God, His Word, and correctly apply it in the world around Him.
5. A man has the responsibility to teach, train, and guide those under his authority into the ways of God.
6. A man works to prove he can provide the basic leadership, physical, and emotional needs of his wife. He never expects or accepts - even if offered - any sexual activity until he has proved himself and entered into a marriage covenant. He wants to lay a solid foundation for their future life although it may mean many sacrifices in the present.
Let's look at the example of Jesus Who was a Perfect Man. Jesus lived as a Real Man for 33 1/2 years. What was He like, what did He do? Of course, studying Jesus is a lifetime project, but I want to draw a few quick facts to your attention.
1. Jesus was under authority. He was always submitted to His Father's authority and to the human representatives of that authority whether it was His parents or other Godly authority. A real man is not independent. He relies on God for His strength and is submissive and respectful to God's earthly authorities. His desire is to do only what pleases the Father.
2. Sometime during the teenage or young adult years of Jesus, His earthly father died. As the eldest Son Jesus assumed responsibility for looking after His mother, brothers, and sisters. He worked hard as a manual labourer until the time He entered full-time ministry. Even then He met His mother's needs right up to the cross. A real man does not avoid his responsibilities no matter how difficult or unpleasant they may be. He does not place his "ministry" over his family responsibilities.
3. Jesus was a Man Who spent time to know God and to know the Father's will. He spent time in studying the Scripture and prayer. To follow God's will, real men spend time to learn it.
4. Jesus was a Man of integrity. He never cheated, never lied to get Himself out of trouble, and He operated in total honesty. People could trust Him. Women and children could feel safe around Him. Real men are men of integrity. A real man keeps his word regardless of the cost. A real man pays his debts. A real man is safe. He does does not give in to lustful eyes or dishonest words.
5. Jesus was a Man of courage. He stood up to the most powerful men of Israel and exposed them. His life was often in danger but He did not back down. And, of course, in the end He voluntarily laid down His life to save others. Real men stand for what is right no matter what the cost. Sometimes it has cost them their jobs, their families, and even their lives. They will not compromise what is right before God.
6. Contrary to the popular drawings of Jesus, He was did not look like a woman and there was no halo around His head. It is highly unlikely He had long hair. He worked hard and had the muscles of a working man. He was a Man and He looked like it. Real men don't try to look like women.
7. Jesus was kind, thoughtful, and loving. He was understanding. He never compromised His beliefs or convictions but He accepted people as they were. The average person liked Jesus. Even sinners wanted to be around Him. A real man accepts and loves people without condemning them or compromising his own values.
8. Jesus went through many hardships and tough times but there was no complaining, whining, self-pity, or blaming others. He knew whatever happened was allowed by God for His benefit. Because He had total trust in God, He could be thankful in every situation. Real men are not whiners or given to self-pity.
There are many more qualities of a real man that we can see in Jesus, but these should provide food for thought. Think about and study the life of Jesus. Being a man is not an easy job. God didn't design it to be easy. A real man grows through the challenges of becoming a real man. It is a lifetime project.