Hello Man, look at yourself, now back to me, now back to yourself, now back to me, sadly, that’s not going to achieve anything. I’m not the man I should be, the man I want to be, the man God requires I be and I’m not by any stretch of the imagination the man to hold up as an example of being a man. No, instead I’m the boy I don’t want to be, the child it’s easier to be, the spoilt brat that I wish I wouldn't be and the coward that embarrasses me. But it’s worse than falling short of my standards because, after all, my standards aren’t what matters. I fall short of God’s standards of being a man.
And it gets me down. I long to be more than I am, I long to be what I should be, I long to be like the men of God who walk the pages of the Bible. How then do we go about this? How do we go from unmanliness to manliness? How, in short, do we man up?
The secret has two parts. Let’s start with the first:
Without God you can do nothing
This is a hard point to accept. It goes against our pride, ego and sinful arrogance. We hate and rebel against our complete dependence on God. We want to stand in our own strength and face our troubles. We want to be men who are too strong to need God. But here’s the rub: we can’t.
So let’s get a little biblical perspective on our life:
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
James 4 v 14
“For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”
Psalm 103 v 14 – 16
“For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.”
1 Peter 1 v 24
“A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass.”
Isaiah 40 v 6 – 7
“LORD, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.”
Psalm 144 v 4
This is your destiny: you will live, but for a little while, then you will die and within a generation or two you will be forgotten. Your name is unlikely to end up in the history books, your wealth, such as it is, will pass on to your children, you enter the world with nothing and you leave with nothing. You are like the grass, a vapor, a mist, a breath, a fleeting shadow, no wonder Solomon says:
“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.”
Ecclesiastes 9 v 5
But our nothingness without God goes deeper still. It is not just that without him we won’t exist it is that he gives us everything.
“And he [God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”
Acts 17 v 25
And a few verses later…
“For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Acts 17 v 28
Without God we are nothing. We could not exist. But it goes deeper than that again. Without God we are spiritually nothing. In Romans Paul gives us a description of man without God:
“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.
“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3 v 10 – 18
This is pretty damning stuff. After all, this description of mankind is hardly flattering but it is so very true.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
Ephesians 2 v 1 – 3
The first step towards becoming a real man is the recognition that without God we can do nothing. Literally, absolutely and unequivocally nothing. We are sinful, broken, twisted, rebellious men who gratify the cravings of our flesh and follow its desires and thoughts. And with this recognition must come humility. We must realize how pathetic we are, how unable we are, how weak and useless we are as we stand before an Almighty God.
We are dependant on God. Fact. What we need to do is to embrace this dependency. We were created to be dependant on God. We rebel against it when it should be our pride and boast.
So maybe there’s an area of weakness in your life. A sin that shouldn’t be there, a lack of a quality that should, maybe you just don’t know how to man up. Well, the first step in all of this is to come before God and admit our weakness. He already knows it! It doesn’t surprise, shock or horrify him. No, instead, if we come before God declaring our own pathetic state we glorify God through our humility and our acknowledgment that we are completely, utterly and gloriously dependant on him for everything.
But no, you say, a real man never admits to his weakness. No, a boy never admits to his weakness. It takes a man to do it. As Paul writes:
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Romans 7 v 24
Paul was more of a man of God than you or I and yet he boasted of his weakness. The fundamental truth to becoming a man is the realization that we are all wretched. We all need to be rescued from our bodies of death. We are all nothing without God.
It is only be giving up doing things in our own strength, by laying aside ever pretence to self sufficiency and by casting down all ego and vanity that we can take the first step to manning up. And as we humble ourselves we need to turn to God, our Creator, Sustainer and Protector and seek him. His power is made perfect in our weakness. His love and grace are all we need.
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence."
2 Peter 1 v 3
So there you go, part 1 of the ultimate secret to being a real man: We can do nothing without God. Some guys will stop at part 1 and do never do anything, ever. But that’s because they haven’t grasped the glorious brilliance of part 2 of the secret. It will follow soon and to give you a clue I’ll quote the next verse from Romans 7:
“Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7 v 25
Go to God’s Word and look up the great men of the Bible and you’ll find men of valiant deeds and mighty acts who nevertheless were entirely free and truthful about their utter dependency on God.
I am on a horse.