Last week we grounded true masculinity in the story of the covenant, seen particularly in the first and last Adams. Men are people particularly created and called to take responsibility, to take the lead in serving and guarding the gifts entrusted to them. This is because the glory of men is their strength (Prov. 20:29).
Men are for Submission
It’s not enough to say that men were made to be strong, we must ask what that strength looks like. As Christian men, we ground our understanding of manhood in Jesus. And one of the central features of the life of Jesus is His obedient submission to His Father’s will. In other words, in order for us to recover true masculinity in the Church we must recover a robust doctrine of the exhaustive sovereignty of God. This is the absolute certainty that God created and rules over all of creation (Gen. 1:1, Heb. 1:3), including storms, disasters, and calamities (Ps. 107:25, Is. 45:7, Amos 3:6), the hearts of kings (Pr. 21:1), all the way down to the sparrows and the hairs on our head (Mt. 10:29-30). We do not assert this as a philosophical theory or a tedious (but irrelevant) theological doctrine. Rather, we find that this is the foundation of the masculine faithfulness of Jesus Christ. The authority and faithfulness of Jesus is explicitly grounded in His submission to His Father’s will. His Father’s will was His food (Jn. 4:34). Apart from the will of His Father, Jesus could do nothing (Jn. 5:30). Jesus is the bread of life precisely by His obedience to His Father (Jn. 6:38). And this obedience includes the Father’s intention to save particular people and raise them from the dead at the last day (Jn. 6:39-40). It was ultimately obedience to that mission that led Him to drink the cup of God’s wrath on the cross in our place (Mt. 26:42, Lk. 22:42, cf. Ps. 11:6, 75:8).
If Jesus was a man under authority, how much more so must every man be under authority? The doctrine of the sovereignty of God insists that we walk in submission to God. Are you a man who embraces your submission to God? Do you prize this submission as highly as you do those under your care? Many men clearly believe that it is more important for their wife or children to submit to them, than it is for them to submit to Christ. But then you are not a biblical leader. You’re just bossy husband and father. Jesus was our faithful covenant keeping head by His submission to God, and therefore this is what biblical masculine leadership and strength looks like: humility and courage before the Lord of the Universe.
Men are for Humility
I said last week that men were made to take responsibility for the gifts of God by serving and guarding them. This means being proactive, taking initiative, studying, inventing, creating, composing, building, organizing. However, in a fallen world, this also includes taking responsibility for messes and mistakes, the ones you make as well as those of others. But if we do not hold humility and courage together we will make bigger messes than we started with. Sometimes men have the sense to know that they need to take responsibility, but when they give it a go nothing seems to go right. Sometimes this is because it’s just a really big project or a really big mess and it’s just going to take a while, but often it’s because some part of humility or courage are lacking.
- Humility first of all means being a man under authority. Jesus is the model of this humility by His submission to His Father’s will. Humility means obedience to God no matter what.
- This also means you must study your subject and welcome feedback. Just because you’re responsible doesn’t mean you know all the answers.
- Humility means patience, contentment, and gratitude for where you are today and for what God has given you.
- Our humility must also include confession of sin and repentance: God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud (Js. 4:6-7). Resist the devil, cleanse your hands and purify your hearts, humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up (Js. 4:8-10). If you are not humble before the Lord, your attempts at leadership are arrogant and you can only expect God to resist you.
- Humility also means loving the way of service and mercy in Jesus who came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:43-45). When you try to lead, when you take responsibility are you doing it to get kudos and gold stars? Are just trying to get peace and quiet? Is it for you or for others? Humility means considering others better than yourself (Phil. 2:3). You were made to be strong in humility for others.
Men Are For Courage
Understood rightly, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty ought to make men bold and courageous. Jesus says that we can’t get an inch taller by worrying (Mt. 6:27). For this reason, we don’t worry about God’s will: we arm ourselves with it (Mt. 6:30-32). It’s the exhaustive care of God for all the details of all of life that is the jet fuel for Kingdom courage (Mt. 6:33). This is why Jonathan attempted great things for the Lord, for there is nothing restraining the Lord to “save by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6). Because God rules all things, we have the audacity to attempt great things. Because of Jonathan’s great courage, the Philistines were routed and confused (1 Sam. 14:15-16, 20), many Israelites formerly in the Philistine camp joined Saul’s army (1 Sam. 14:21), other Israelites hiding in the mountains came down and joined up as well (1 Sam. 14:22), and the Lord saved Israel and gave them a great victory (1 Sam. 14:23). All because of one man’s courage. A brief survey of Scripture reveals that courage is for conflict (2 Sam. 10:12), for leadership (Dt. 31:23), for decision-making (1 Chr. 28:20), for obedience (Josh. 1:7, 23:6, 2 Chr. 15:8), and for not losing hope (2 Chr. 32:7, Ps. 31:24, Acts 28:15). It should be noted that true humility often takes a lot of courage precisely because it is mistaken for arrogance. Jesus was crucified for His humility, which is why it took such courage.
Love & Glory
The glory of men is their strength (Pr. 20:29). Which is to say that God made men for glory. He made men hungry for glory, and He loves it when we chase after glory (Rom. 2:5-10). But God made men to find that glory in doing hard things that require physical, emotional, mental strength. When men embrace humility and courage and step out in obedience before the Lord, the Bible calls that love. It’s actually pretty startling how often Christians assume that the mess of lies served up by Hollywood is somehow basically right when it comes to the definition of love. The lies say having good intentions, believing in yourself, and good feelings will result in success and blessing and happy endings. But the Bible teaches that love is laying your life down, giving up your rights and comfort, bearing with others in their weakness, suffering gladly for the sake of others in obedience to God’s word. We know love because Christ laid His life down for us (1 Jn. 4:9-10, cf. Eph. 5:25). This is what humility and courage look like. But you cannot give what you don’t have.
Men, you were made for the hard work of humility and courage. You were made for the glory of the cross.
[Note: You can listen to the recording of this sermon here.]