“Girls are beautiful and boys are handsome, silly!” she said, scolding him in a kindly jesting way. This conversation between a five-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy took place within earshot and is typical of our standard gender stereotypes.
But why can’t we appreciate beauty within men? Why shouldn’t we appreciate strength in women more? I would argue that whilst men tend to be more handsome than beautiful, their characters can be beautiful.
Recently I walked past a church and it promoted a series aimed at men called, “Ways to Manhood – learn how to be powerful, innocent, and free.” Sceptically, I wondered how biblical this program was. And then I felt God open my understanding. Men can be, by character, powerful, innocent, and free.
In this way their characters can become beautiful.
So, the following are some thoughts on how men can be appropriately and biblically powerful, innocent for God’s use, and free for themselves and their family.
1. A Man With An Appreciative Power At His Grasp
Whenever I ask my wife what are the important characteristics of a true man she remarks, with words to the effect, “He needs to be gentle and tender, especially with his wife.” (This immediately gets me to self-audit!)
The truth is a man cannot be powerful regarding manhood if he cannot harness his power in being gentle and tender when it is most needed.
A man with an appreciative sense of power at his grasp has been delimited, and he can do all things that God asks of him. This man’s power is adequate only under God. He knows his power is entirely contingent upon surrender before God—and, therefore, he is, as best as he can be, an authentic man. No truth-about-the-self is hidden from him, and as new self-revelations come to light they are met with genuine intrigue for learning and are, therefore, dealt with.
The powerful man is not by nature a denier. He has learned to love the truth, however painful it can be sometimes.
2. A Man Who Is Neither A Threat, Nor Can Be Threatened
It is difficult for Christians to contemplate being innocent. The concept of sin is a problem whenever we consider our innocence. Christ died for us because we are not innocent. But because Christ died for us we can now be rendered innocent under the terms of grace.
There is another take on innocence to be cognisant of, however.
Whenever a man, or any person for that matter, is no threat to others and cannot be threatened he is, or they are, from a pragmatic viewpoint, innocent—at least relationally.
When a man reaches this sense of equilibrium he can be a friend to anybody, in any situation. He both loves freely and is easy to love.
3. A Man Who Is, Therefore, Free
If we were to combine the above aspects of character—being appropriately and biblically powerful, with being a threat to nobody and not being threatened—we can begin to see the man who is free.
He is free to become, more and more, the man God purposed him to be.
A free man is free to obey God, free to love, and free within himself to do these things. Unrestricted, he wants to do these things because he is free to do these things. Doing these things brings him, and those that love him, great joy.
Above all, the free man is free to be perfectly imperfect.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Postscript: no man, or woman that matter, will ever be perfect. Our characters are what we are characterised by most of the time. We will all have lapses. The question for us men is, do we act powerfully, innocently, and free most of the time?