What is a man? It seems like a straightforward question, but many males find themselves searching for the definition for manliness today. I think the search has gotten harder now that society can’t even agree on what gender means anymore.
Webster’s dictionary defines man as: an adult male human being. Is that it?
Webster’s dictionary defines man as: an adult male human being. Is that it? Isn’t there more to it than that. Webster’s next definition for man states: a man or boy who shows the qualities (such as strength and courage) that men are traditionally supposed to have. O.K. now we are getting somewhere, but who decides what these manly qualities are? Strength and courage are desirable and admirable in men, right? The problem I see is that people have many different ideas about what strength and courage look like. One man may see an action as strong, another may see it as weak, example: being able to walk away from a fight. Women may find different traits desirable, one may like a physically strong man, while another may like a man with a strong mind and great intellect. Whatever our own personal definitions may be, or what society and cultures are, we are left deciding who is a true man and who is not.
We are than left wondering do I measure up to that, or do I even want to. Our standards have to be measured by the truth, if we are to ever have any true confidence in our identity. Many males exhibit manly qualities, but sometimes it is easy to see that they are in fact insecure boys trying to live up to a standard they feel they can never truly meet. This is where the beauty of God’s grace comes in. God created man in his image and gave him charge over his whole creation, telling them to take dominion over it. He commanded the first man, Adam, to be a leader and decision maker and he gave him work to do. These traits still sound familiar to us even all this time later. They are universal qualities of manhood recognized by every culture around the world. The world is broken and fallen though, and manhood has suffered as a result. Men struggle to lead their families, make decisions and work productively. The original commands of God are still written on our consciences, but nowadays I see many men trying to fulfil these God given duties in their own ways and in their own strength. That is why so much of what we see today seems to be a perversion on true manliness, and a fake attempt at the real deal. We see aggression, unkindness, and selfishness. We see strength used in the wrong way, by not bringing glory to God or to help others, but to oppress and belittle those weaker. We are in such a fallen state that society even says that the old traditional ideas about manhood are obsolete. We are even to the point now where we even question gender and what is means to be a male or female on the the most fundamental level.
“But for the grace of God go I” is one my favorite quotes. It was made by a true man named John Bradford who lived in 16th century England. He was martyred by being burned alive at the stake under Queen Mary I “Bloody Mary”. He said the above quote as he was being led to stake to be burned. When we as men rely on God’s grace, we are saying “I know I’m supposed to be strong and courageous, but I am weak and helpless”. When we are humble and realize that we cannot be a true man (we’ll either be a fake or a brute) we seek help from our God and redeemer. Jesus went to the cross, the greatest display of strength ever, and was crucified and rose again. Jesus won. Almighty God nailed to a cross by his own choosing to pay for the sins of rebels and mockers, but by doing so he defeated the greatest threat this planet has ever known, sin and death. Us men, that are now in Christ, are free to live a godly life, being proper leaders, and being filled with strength and courage, but not our own, it is that which is freely given to us. Let us admit together that we are weak and let us seek and pray for God’s grace that he has bought for us, so we can do all we are required to do. Let us diligently study the Bible together and find out what a godly man is supposed to do, then count on grace to do it.
As we take our next step out the door to start our day, let us say together “But for the grace of God go I”.
By Michael Conway
Shopping Cart Retrieval Specialist
And Not So Guru Show Host
He reads books.