Have you ever wondered what purpose you have in life? Have you ever asked yourself why you even exist?
I certainly have; and if you are like most men, you have too. One of the most important things we must realize about life is that God has a definite plan for us. Life is more than just random and haphazard. God created us, He designed us, and He did it so that we would fulfill a God-ordained purpose. Here then are some key steps to becoming a Godly man by walking in the footsteps of the Son of Man.
So what does it mean to say that God has a plan for us?
The one thing we know beyond doubt is that God is guiding us, leading us, urging us, influencing us toward that plan. God has a very special plan for your life, and for mankind.
Your own family and God desire certain attributes in your life to bless them. God has a plan to make us Godly men. We need to understand that God wants us to be just like His son. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be transformed into the image of Jesus, the Son of Man. The first part of God's plan is thus to make us spiritual leaders.
What is a spiritual leader? The perfect example is Jesus-in fact God wants us to become Christ-like, which is the very meaning of the Greek word "charisma":
"And we...are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory..." (2 Corinthians 3:18).
To discover what we are meant to become, we need to first read the Bible and study the life of Christ to learn the fruit of a Spirit-filled life. We therefore need to read the Bible and meditate upon the revealed word of God daily. Our families need us to be spiritual leaders. Of course, we cannot be spiritual leaders just because we want to be. God must plant into our hearts the desire to be spiritual leaders-but He also must put it into your spouse's heart to allow us to be the leader. It takes two to make a leader.
How do we know if we are leading?
The simple test of leadership is simple. Who do the kids go to when they want something? Who signs the report card? Who decides if we go to church or have family devotions? Whoever leads in these actions is the spiritual leader. Sadly, most men do not do this because it takes both effort and creativity. Many of us would rather do our own selfish thing and go our own way, sort of like lazy, thick maned African lions basking under a tree on the Savannah. A spiritual leader-above all else-must be sacrificial:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her." (Eph. 5:25)
What this means for us as men is that we need to be sacrificial. When we come home from work exhausted, we still need to summon the energy to meet our wife's emotional needs and have a conversation with her. We need to do our part around the house and also help motivate her to do good things. There comes a time when we must abandon selfishness for selflessness, when we "flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness" (II Tim. 2:22). There comes a time when we must show ourselves as men by leaving behind everything ungodly and making a decision to walk with God.
Our families need godly men.
Our wives need godly men.
Our world needs godly men.
What kind of a man are you?
This then brings us to the second part of God's plan to make us godly men: to be providers. We need to provide for our families. Formerly, most people thought that being a provider meant having a job and furnishing the family's material needs-but it means much more than just that. We are to meet financial needs, emotional needs, physical needs, and spiritual needs:
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Tim. 5:8)
Men are called upon to provide for our families. Even ungodly men provide for the physical needs of their families-sometimes under the threat of sanction from our legal system. Too many fathers abandon their families. They surrender to their lusts and create children while rejecting the responsibility of fatherhood. A father must be responsible. He needs to provide for the physical needs of the family-but he must go beyond that to also provide for spiritual needs.
How do we do so?
Firstly, by our example. None of us are perfect. We have so many flaws, errors in judgment, and often just plain blow it. But if our children catch on to the idea that we are trying to do our best with what we have-it just might make all of the difference. When we get it wrong, apologize. When we err, admit it. Most of all, when we can fix it, take action.
Our families do not expect perfection, but they do need a humble, godly man to lead them in a Christ-like manner. Part of that responsibility is to fulfill the role of teacher or coach:
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
It is not the job of government or schools to educate our children, to train them, or to discipline them. It is ours. We are to provide our children with a Christian education, to train them in the way that they should go. Some of us are fortunate to have a Christian school nearby. If not, and if home schooling is not an option, then attending church, Sunday school, and family devotions become especially important.
In public schools and universities today, students are forced to learn about things that they need not know or about things they ought to learn from their parents or the church. Things like sex education, homosexuality, familial roles, and tolerance of other religions. These are not the state's responsibility, or even their jurisdiction. Their actual job is to serve and protect us; they lack the moral and spiritual experience, wisdom, or the right to teach our children about such topics.
The school and the government must be the servant of the parent, not our masters. As fathers, it is our job to protect and ensure that our children get proper godly training. The real measure of manhood is spiritual maturity or godliness. There comes a time when the boy needs to sit down and the man needs to stand up. There comes a time when we reveal ourselves as men by leaving behind us everything ungodly and making the decision to walk with God. As Nobel Prize laureate Rudyard Kipling put it so aptly in his 1907 poem:
Which brings us to the third step in God's plan for us: that the godly man is to be a man. King David was a godly man. He was physically masculine; after all, he slew a 9 foot tall warrior giant, a lion, and a bear with only a sling or a club. However, masculinity is not measured just by the size of our biceps or the courage of our hearts. David understood this keenly, as revealed in some of his testamentary words to his son, Solomon:
"As David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, 'I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn..." (1 Kings 2:1-3)
King David was on his deathbed but wanted to teach his son, Solomon, how to be a man. He tells Solomon to be strong, and then what a man does. He walks in God's ways. That is the definition of a real, godly man. We might be short, skinny, and anything but a warrior. The secular definition of a man is to be big and tough, like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. To not take anything from anyone; but that is not God's definition of a real man. Remember that the strongman of the Old Testament, Samson, lost all of his power when he disobeyed God. It was his faith and not his muscles or even his hair that made him formidable. A real man walks in the will of the Lord, and that is what he seeks from us. That is what women seek from their husbands; that is what our children need from us. That is what our world needs.
When David exhorts Solomon to 'be strong', he is not speaking of brawling or physical strength; he is talking about being strong by following God and walking faithfully in His ways. David walked his talk in this respect. Recall for example what he shouted at Goliath:
"You come to me with a sword, a spear, a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted." (I Samuel 17:45)
In other words, the name of the Lord is the source of real power. Men who rely upon it are much more powerful than those who do not:
"Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." (Eph. 6:10)
We must therefore teach our families what it means to stand firm and be strong for God. We must teach them that humility, justice, love, and gentleness are not weak. We must teach them that abstinence and sobriety are honourable values. We must show them that real strength is following and imitating the creator of strength and power.
Will you be a godly man or will you turn your back on God? Will you be a man who lives to serve his wife and children or will you be the one who lives to pleasure himself? Choose today what kind of man you will be, to serve the Lord and be the kind of man God created you to be-to be as the Son of Man.
But what does the designation "Son of Man" mean, exactly? And how does it relate to our becoming godly men?
The designation Son of Man means that Jesus is both human as we are, a son of Adam, and that he is the coming Messiah, given authority by the Most High to reign over his kingdom through his meekness, seen most clearly at the Cross. While the expression "son of man" occurs frequently in the Old Testament as a synonym for "man" the book of Daniel also uses it to refer to the coming divine ruler who will be given authority and a kingdom by God. Both of these usages form the basis for Christ's own self-designation as the Son of Man. We understand how this Son of Man will reign his kingdom, then, by the way that Jesus himself takes up the authority given him by God to rule-namely in his suffering, death, and resurrection on our behalf. We therefore know that this Son of Man rules his kingdom by means of his meekness, though he will one day come again in power to finally destroy all of his enemies and take his rightful place as the visible king of creation.
The expression 'son of man' occurs frequently in the Old Testament for "man"-a son of man is by nature man himself. It is a Semitic idiom signifying "human being". Virtually all of the 107 occurrences of the expression bear this out:
"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent."
So also Job, reflecting upon his comparatively low status before God and frustrated to vindicate his innocence in suffering, complains that a man would not dare argue his case with God "as a son of man does with his neighbour"(Job 16:21). David also uses this idiom in his famous reflections upon creation:
"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Ps. 8:3-4).
93 of the Old Testament occurrences of this term are found in Ezekiel, where the prophet himself is the point of reference. A 'son of man' is a human being. At least twice in the Old Testament 'son of man' is used with Messianic significance. The best known is Daniel 7:13-14:
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."
So this one "like a son of man" conquers the evil world system, obtains authority over God's kingdom, and exercises that authority universally, sharing his rule with the people of God. What is striking here is that God's kingdom is given to "one like a son of man"-God's kingdom in the hands of a man.
Psalm 8:4 also has subtle Messianic connections. In this brief Psalm, David reflects upon the real dignity given to man at creation:
"What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the worlds of your hands; you have put all things under his feet."
David marvels that man, though comparatively insignificant, is yet created in God's image and designed to rule over creation as God's vice-regent. Hebrews picks up this Psalm with the added observation that man has "not yet" obtained this dominion-lost at Eden-but nobly regained at Calvary:
"But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death." (Heb. 2:9)
The stunning announcement of the gospel is that the Son of God, sharing in the shining glory of deity above all angels, has become one of us. He too "for a little while was made lower than the angels." Our high dignity is that to which the Son of God stooped in condescension, in order by death to make a propitiation for us and win what we by sin had lost. The Son of God has become the son of man in order-as man-to redeem and restore us to our originally designed status and glory. This of course ties into the larger Messianic hope of the Old Testament and the entire Biblical story.
In combining these two passages and their respective indications, we note that the Old Testament Messianic hope anticipates not just a king over Israel but one whose reign as a son of man extends to all the world. The prophecy of Daniel 7 encompasses a long look at future history from the time of Daniel to the consummation, when the enemies of God are brought to final judgment and the people of God share in its rule. At the apparent climax of history this "one like a son of man" approaches the Ancient of Days "with the clouds of heaven" to receive universal authority and eternal dominion. He is "like a son of man", yet does not come from earth to heaven but out of obscurity into manifestation-approaching the throne of God by Divine right. He rides on the clouds, a function associated elsewhere with God (Ps.104:3). He moreover is worshipped and given universal homage. All this serves to indicate that this one "like a son of man" (i.e. human) is the transcendent Messiah.
An ardent Biblical student recognizes that all this takes place in the larger sweep of Messianic expectation which finds fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, the uniquely qualified divine-human king. Indeed, Jesus himself confirms this for us, explicitly associating himself with Daniel's "son of man" (Matt. 26:63-64). This is in fact his favorite self-designation, recurring some 80 times in the Gospels, and becomes on his lips a Messianic title. Jesus is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man. He possesses divine authority over the Sabbath, authority to heal, authority over life and death, and even the divine authority to forgive sin.
Most prominently, when Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man, it is with connotations of his eschatological glory, his return to earth to exercise the full rights of kingship and bring God's kingdom to consummation:
"Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28)...Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:29-31)...When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne (Matt. 25:31)."
Daniel's prophecy envisions the coronation of the king (7:13-14) and the establishment of his rule; but the prophecy looks further to the kingdom in its climactic form with the Son of Man and his saints ruling universally, all enemies subdued (7:9-27). In these verses, the Lord Jesus lays claim to that rule himself. With obvious reference to Daniel 7, the apostle John leads us to anticipate the same: "Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him" (Rev. 1:7). And this all culminates, of course, in the return of Christ depicted in Revelation 19, as Jesus the conqueror descends upon a white horse at war against all of his enemies. Here at last, "the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). God's kingdom will come in its fulness by the saving work of the Son of Man.
The Imago Dei, or man created in God's image, is designed to rule over God's creation as His vice-regent. This exalted status was forfeited by sin, but in Jesus, the True Man, humanity is redeemed and restored. He is the Son of Man, the transcendent Messiah, who by his saving work has earned a universal kingship exercised now in rescuing his people, one by one, out of the kingdom of darkness, and guiding us safely into the kingdom of light. This saving rule will be finally realized when he returns, at which point "every knee will bow" before him and acknowledge him as Lord (Phil. 2:9-10).
Jesus was very subtle in that he was always opening his identity to those with eyes to see, but not so blatantly that everybody would come and hail him 'king'. He had to steer a very narrow path in disclosing his identity. He was quiet; he was subtle; and he would make explicit claims in certain settings and implicit in others. Only when the time was right-mainly when he was on trial for his life and asked "Are you the Christ, the Son of the living God?"-did he say "I am, and you will see the Son of Man coming with great power and glory." So he confesses his open deity right at that point where he knew that it would bring about his own crucifixion. That was his selfless sacrifice on behalf of his entire family of believers. Christ therefore exemplifies the ultimate man that we are to emulate in order to become godly men ourselves.
What all of this hopefully teaches us is that in order to be godly men, we must follow Christ's example. We must follow God's laws and His commandments. We must be wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. We must have the courage and the conviction to follow the Son of Man in our daily lives: as fathers, as grandfathers, as husbands, as brothers, as godly men. But most of all, we must live out Christ's greatest commandments in the Law:
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 22:36-40).