Wednesday, May 2, 2012
A Man After God's Own Heart: A Look at Biblical Manhood
David has frequently been labelled as “a man after God’s own heart,” but what does this mean? Clearly, David was not perfect as seen by the Bathsheba fiasco. But David was godly. When Nathan approaches David in 2 Samuel 12, David responds in shame and repentance: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’” (verse 13). This incident corresponds to Psalm 51, in which David pours out his heart before God. He responds out of honest contrition and a desire to restore holy fellowship with the Lord. He prays, “Create in me a pure heart . . . and renew a steadfast spirit within me . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12). I find this passage key, for it shows that though David sinned, he returned to the Lord and continued to seek after Him. Likewise, godly men of today (and women, but this week’s focus is on men) will stumble and fall, they will make mistakes, but how they choose to respond is paramount. The Lord forgave David and even blessed him with Solomon. But David had to return his focus on the Lord and re-evaluate his life’s purpose. That, is something Christian men of today need to hear. So, we’ve established that David was a godly man, though he had his faults. My thoughts go back to Micah 6:8, which adds to what we’ve discussed: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” God asks that man walk with Him, journey with Him, seek Him diligently. A godly man acknowledges his faults and weaknesses, and clings to the Lord for his very life, not out of fear, but out of gratitude, trust, and joy. How does this translate to today? How should men behave in our present culture? The age of the Bible does not negate its truth. Paul, another man of God, encourages Timothy in his faith and his interaction among believers. In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, he states, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” I want to highlight that last charge, in how men should treat younger women. Our culture does not encourage men to behave in God-glorifying, pure ways towards women. The culture has fanned the flames of lust and desire, and has told men that if you want a woman physically, you can have her, no strings attached. So much for purity… In Colossians 3:5, though, God calls us to a higher standard: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Society is against this, but God is for this. Job wisely stated, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1). How many men today can say that? Or rather, how may men today would want to commit to that? It is against the flesh, against natural instinct, but it is God’s way of living, not man’s. So far, we’ve looked at David, as a man after God’s own heart and how a man should seek after the Lord, and we’ve examined how men should behave towards women, Biblically speaking. Now, onto marriage. My first point emphasized a man’s relationship with the Lord, my second point showed how a man should behave towards women, and my last point will show how men should act towards their wives in the marital context. Ephesians 5:22 lays out the roles of men and women in a marriage. For women: “22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” This may sound harsh and unequal. Sumbit to him in everything?! Keep reading… To the men: “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.” So in the end, there is a beautiful balance. If the man loves the Lord with all his heart, and seeks after Him, he will be able to love his wife and care for her in a Christ-like, self-sacrificial manner. The woman, in turn, should submit, not be a doormat, but respect the man and allow him to lead her. This does not mean she is inferior or inadequate. If a man is truly in tune with the Lord, and a woman desires to seek the Lord as well, their relationship will revolve around mutual love and respect in which both are equal before God. Though I feel I could say so so much more, I think this summarizes the main points of Biblical manhood that men today need to hear.