Chris Crane currently serves as a College Intern at First Baptist Church in Irving, TX and in leadership of Dallas Baptist University's Encounter Ministries. He is also completing his B.A. in Biblical Studies with a minor in Philosophy at DBU. From there, he plans to pursue his M.Div. in Biblical Spirituality from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow Chris on Twitter @cmcrane87. ___
Over the past several years, I have become increasingly aware of the need for men to be godly, myself included. I have seen the devastating effects of the neglect of biblical manhood in churches and in the lives of people I care about. However, if we want to see God raise up men who are going to love their wives and serve the church, we have to begin the discussion early, namely, when men are still single. While I have no doubt that God can redeem broken marriages and mend fractured relationships, my primary focus here is to examine how, as single men, can we faithfully pursue biblical manhood, under the banner of the gospel, for the glory of God and the good of the Church. There are many points to be made, but I will list five.
1. Examination and Repentance
Real men love Jesus. As tiring as that old cliché may be, it's true. We must heed Paul's exhortation to examine whether we are in the faith or not (2 Cor. 13:5; see also Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 4:1). Godly women want to be loved by godly men and you can't be godly if you don't know Jesus. In fact, if you do know Jesus, your life will be marked by a distinct characteristic: repentance. Repentance is not simply what you do to be saved, but it is the fruit of those who belong to God. In order to be the men we were created to be, to paraphrase Martin Luther, "All of life must be one of repentance."
2. Find Community
Modern Christians often emphasize “a personal relationship with Jesus,” but Christianity is actually quite corporate. That’s not to say that Jesus isn’t concerned about the individual. He is. However, that doesn’t negate our need for each other. If you look at 1 Corinthians 12, Paul’s analogy of the body would make absolutely no sense if Jesus’s desire was to build an individualistic Christianity. Instead, what we see in this chapter is Jesus uniting people in the gospel by his Spirit for his mission. Each person in the body has their own spiritual gifts and natural talents that God has given them to serve his purposes. Embrace that; don’t flee from it.
Additionally, we need each other for encouragement and correction. True joy is fought for. It’s warfare. But how often in history do we hear of a soldier going to war by himself? There’s always a group of men fighting with him, watching each other’s backs. This is where biblical community comes in. We should “stir one another up to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24), “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2), as well as remind each other to “only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). It’s in the context of community where the examination I mentioned above should take place. It keeps us from being overly introspective and, instead, keeps our eyes on Jesus Christ. Jesus will use community to shape us into godly men, especially if we take the time to get counsel from older and wiser godly men.
3. Take Responsibility
God calls men to bear responsibility. It hearkens all the way back to Genesis 2:15, where God gives Adam responsibility and a job to do before he gives him a wife to lead. If you want to work towards being a godly man, there are some practical steps to take as well.
If you can’t pay for your dates, you probably shouldn’t be going on them. Your days spent playing with young ladies’ hearts or sleeping all day won’t make you a man. In fact, it will further your “boyishness.” God is so concerned about men stepping up and taking responsibility that, in 1 Tim. 5:8, we read, “But if anyone does not provide for this relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Men, feel the weight of that text. This is not something to play with. If you want to be godly and respectable men, stop playing around and take responsibility. Be ready to provide for your future family before you actually have a family.
4. Be a Gentleman
For the record, chivalry is not dead. It may be wounded, it may be sleeping, but it surely isn’t dead. However, there’s a difference between being a gentleman and being a flirt. A godly gentleman serves women out of the kindness of his changed heart. He seeks after the lady’s welfare above his own. An ungodly person often flirts in hopes of getting a woman into bed with him or to be the trophy on his arm.
In 1 Tim. 5:2, we are told to treat our sisters in Christ with “all purity.” In other words, we should treat our sisters in Christ with the same relational reverence and respect as we would our own biological sisters. If what you’re trying to do with that woman is something you wouldn’t do with your sister, then you need to check your heart and leave her alone.
5. Don’t Look for a Girlfriend, Look for a Wife
I’ll be honest and say that this point is still the one I have to remind myself of the most. It’s easy to forget because it’s so counter-cultural to the entire American idea of dating. As men pursuing godliness, do not simply “date for fun.” You should be intentional and make your intentions known up front. Don’t leave her guessing about what you want out of your time together. You need to be mindful of her love for Jesus and her maturity as a woman.
And if she’s beautiful, that’s great, but what’s her character like? Her physical appearance may constantly change, but her character is what’s going to matter in the long run. Let me give you an example. As someone who is pursuing pastoral ministry, I want to be very careful who I choose to intentionally seek out to develop a romantic relationship with. So, while yes, I want her to be physically attractive, more than that, I want to know if she fears the Lord. I want to know that Jesus is her hope, not me. Will she be patient with me, especially if I pursue more theological education? Will she respect me and let me lead? Do I see anything in her life that shows she’s growing into the godly woman revealed in Prov. 30 and 1 Pet. 3? These are things you want to look for the seeds of in a potential wife. Now, don’t freak her out and talk about marriage on the first date, however she needs to know and you need to tell her what your intentions are, so the sooner she knows that, the better for both of you.
The God of Grace
Remember, my brothers, that God is a God of grace. You won’t do all of this perfectly. I sure don’t. But we have been given the Holy Spirit, who comforts us, convicts us, and guides us into all truth. Therefore, let us be bold in chasing after Christ together and let him inform our masculinity. I leave you with Paul’s charge to be godly men found in 1 Tim. 6:11-16:
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony beforePontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”