(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Justin Buzzard’s Date Your Wife.)
Men are always measuring themselves. You can’t hang out with a group of three or more men for more than three minutes without hearing them take measurement of themselves. Listen to what men talk about—their accomplishments, successes, and unique experiences that separate them from others. It doesn’t matter if the man is a banker, a plumber, a pastor, a CEO, an artist, an athlete, or unemployed—all men craft a standard of accomplishment by which they measure themselves and measure other men.
Men get this from Genesis 2:15. This behavior stems from a misunderstanding of the mandate God gave men back in the garden of Eden. God gave Adam and God gave us a mission to accomplish. But God never told Adam and never told us to measure ourselves by the mission. God gave us a different standard of measurement. The measure of a man is not how successful or unsuccessful a man is at carrying out his mission.
The measure of a man is not what he says about himself or what other people say about him. The true measure of a man comes from what God says about him.
Adam didn’t believe this. And we don’t believe it either.
Adam failed at his mission. He didn’t keep Genesis 2:15. He didn’t guard his garden and his marriage. That’s why Adam hid from God and hid from his wife behind the cover of fig leaves and excuses. Adam found his identity in his ability to perform Genesis 2:15, to successfully cultivate and guard. Having royally failed in his performance, Adam’s whole identity was at stake. The measurement didn’t look good, so Adam hid, excused, and blamed.
Before God gave Adam a wife, he gave him a job—to cultivate and guard the garden. But here’s the really good news: before God gave Adam a job, he gave him an identity. Before God gave Adam a job to do or a mission to accomplish, he gave Adam an identity to embrace. Before God told Adam to do anything, he told Adam who he was—he gave Adam the true way to measure and define himself.
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 1:31
Very good! After creating Adam, God looks down upon Adam and declares him very good. This is the living God speaking. This is God declaring what he thinks about Adam. This is Adam’s identity. What God says goes. If God says Adam is very good, then this is the voice that defines Adam.
Adam = A man created in the image of God and declared “very good” by God.
Adam’s Genesis 2:15 calling was meant to flow out of Adam’s Genesis 1:31 identity. God told Adam what he thought about him; he gave Adam his approval—before Adam lifted a finger in the garden. Adam received his God-approved identity before he had a chance to do anything to prove himself. This is what we call grace, or the gospel—the good news of receiving favor from God that we don’t deserve or earn. But Adam gets it backward. He didn’t listen. Instead of believing, accepting, and living consistently with this God-given identity based on grace, Adam settled for an identity based on works. Adam hid, excused, and blamed in the attempt to reestablish his identity, in the attempt to prove that he was not as guilty and unsuccessful as he looked. Adam settled for a life powered by religion instead of a life powered by the gospel.
This has been the biggest problem of my life. I base my identity on my performance. When I perform well at marriage, fatherhood, my job, cultivating and guarding the garden God has given me, and meeting my goals, I feel good about myself.
I’m happy with my measurements. But when I perform poorly in these spheres, I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t like what the measurements say about me, so I hide, make excuses, and play the blame game.
Justin Buzzard is the lead pastor of Garden City Church, a new church plant in Silicon Valley. His preaching is featured on Preaching Today. You can also buy his books, Date Your Wife, Why Cities Matter, and Consider Jesus. Click here to view a list of favorite posts from JustinBuzzard.net. Twitter @JustinBuzzard or Facebook