Origin of Manhood: Every Man is a Theologian
When we talk about what it means to be a man from a biblical perspective we have to realize that we are working completely against popular culture. If you want to be a godly man, there is a good chance that you are going to have to die to any worldly conception of masculinity.
Modern conceptions of what it means to be a man are all too often superficial and temporary and often change from one context to the next. It might mean strapping on some kind of uniform, or wearing a suit and tie, or maybe work boots, a flannel shirt, and a dip of snuff. But all of these things are surface stuff, they cannot adequately display what it means to be a man.
So then the question is:
Who is the one (or maybe I should say the One) that determines what it means to be a man?
For the answer to this, we need to look at the very first pages of the Bible and see if the Creator gives us any insight into what it means to be a man.
From the Beginning
Our first realization should be that God created mankind (male and female) in His image. We see that in the first chapter of Genesis after God created all the rest of the world, He created man.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:26-31)
Observations on Genesis 1:26-31:
- God created man as a special creation (in His image)
- We are to have dominion over the physical world (all the animals in the air, land, and sea)
- We were commanded
- to be fruitful
- fill the earth
- subdue it
- have dominion
- When God had completed His work, He declared that it was “very good”
There is so much going on here. What exactly does it mean to “subdue” the earth? This is a powerful word, it carries with it the idea of domination, conquest, capture, take into slavery. This should excite us to our core. This means that if you are a man you are supposed to be exercising your dominion over the realm in which God has placed you.
The problem with this is that it is easily corrupted and perverted. To make this more relevant in our cultural climate, let’s think in terms of stewardship and responsibility. It would be really easy to think of dominion in a graceless way, but that is not what God has called us to. We are to exercise responsible stewardship over our family, ministry, and vocation.
Let’s look at Genesis 2.
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)
In this passage, God is speaking specifically to the man. Adam was placed in the Garden to work it and keep it.
Work — labor, work, till the ground
Keep — watch, preserve, protect
For men, God has called you to cultivate and protect. Think of how this should affect you as a husband. Think of what would have happened if Adam had kept this perfectly. Soon after this, God created woman from man, brought her to him, and he named her.
In doing this, we can see that God was giving Eve to Adam as part of his responsibility. He should have been protecting her. Soon afterward there was a predator in the Garden and he should have killed it. But since he didn’t we have been plagued with sin ever since.
Christ the Perfect Man
Jesus Christ was the only man that fulfilled this calling perfectly. In His miracles we see Him:
- Calming the wind and waves
- Multiplying the bread and the fish
- Healing the sick
- Raising the dead
- Water to wine
Laziness is Not an Option
“But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10)
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
Work Hard (as worship)
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3: 17)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23)
Recapture the Christian Understanding of “Vocation”
Too many of us have forgotten that the term vocation means, “calling”. And if we think of the idea of calling, we only think about it as a calling to be in “full-time ministry”. But that is not the case. If you are a Christian you have been called by God. You are called. And your calling is to be in the vocation that God has assigned to you. This is real “full-time ministry” whether you’re a cop, teacher, accountant, waiter, cashier, or garbageman. God has called you to be His servant in your domain. No one else can walk in your shoes. Your calling is specific to you and God has called you to be faithful!
What does this look like?
1. Pursue excellence in your work.
2. See your job as a mission field for the Gospel. You are often the only Jesus people in your workplace will ever see (Romans 10).
3. Be Gospel-driven in word and deed.
4. Be a good steward of what God has given you.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7)
Closing Practical Thoughts
- Every man is a theologian. The question is going to be how good or bad of a theologian are you going to be.
- Pastor Robert Murray McCheyne said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” This is what your family needs from you. You must guard your heart and your eyes. This is the same idea that Paul was conveying in 1 Timothy 4:16: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
- Redeem your commute. Find ways to use your time well.
- Shepherd your family well. You are the pastor of your home.
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
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