Obviously, the title of this post is a blatant ripoff of the one of the leading cliches of our time: “Your God is too small.” I wanted to clarify a few things, to myself as much as anyone else, on a prior post. With my post “Man’s Highest Call?” on marriage, I don’t mean in any way to demean marriage or to say that men should ease their commitments to their wives and children; if anything we should be raising the bar in those areas. What I am actually getting at (I think) is that the call to Biblical manhood is something much bigger and grander than simply being a committed husband and father. It is inclusive of those things, but Jesus seems to take us far deeper as He outlines what He means when He talks the men who would dare come after Him. Here is my novice attempt to redefine Biblical manhood:
“The Biblical man is a disciple of Christ.”
Without qualification. Who is the Biblical man? The one who follows Christ. What is Biblical manhood? Following Christ.
This is why Jesus’ messages to His disciples are much less concerned with “7 Steps to Improving Your Marriage” or “Becoming a Better Communicator in the Home” than ours are. It is a given that the Biblical husband will lay down his life for his wife whom he loves dearly because he has already embraced Jesus’ broader call to love his neighbor (for whom love is not as natural) as himself. We should view the interests of everyone in our lives as equal to our own–obviously, we begin with loving our wives (Philippians 2:4). This is a given for any married man who is a disciple of Christ. As Paul says, “He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it (Ephesians 5:28-29).” Jesus is calling us beyond the obvious points of loving our wives, our family, and our friends in His call toward us,
You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus says that the greatest commandments of Scripture are 1) Love the Lord with all we are, and 2) Love our neighbors as ourselves. The second commandment is a practical outworking of the first, as we understand that to love God is to love what God loves.
This may be a bit of a scattered post organizationally, but I have a bit of a scattered mind cognitively. Here is a partial listing of different parties we are commanded to love in the New Testament:
- God, beyond all else (Luke 10:27),
- Our neighbors, as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27),
- Our wives, as Christ loves us and without bitterness (Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19),
- Our enemies (Luke 6:35),
- “The brethren (members of our churches),” as evidence of spiritual life in us (1 John 3:14),
- The Weak, if we are blessed to be able to count ourselves among the Strong in the church (Romans 14),
- The poor among us (James 2; Galatians 2:10),
- A brother in need (1 John 3:17-18).
Perhaps one might point out that we are called to lay down our lives completely for the good of our wives (Ephesians 5:25). This is spot on. But it is not altogether unlike Jesus’ saying, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends, (John 15:13)” or John’s follow-up to this in his epistle, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16).” We should give our lives for our wives. We should also give our lives for our friends. And we should give our lives for brothers-in-Christ.
One more important facet of the husband-wife relationship is that we will one day give an account to God for the way we have treated and led our wives. Pastors and others in church leadership will also give an account one day for those for whom they have been responsible in life. But it also seems from Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan that we will give an account for our every interaction with others. Finally, in Matthew 12:36, Jesus implies that we will give an account for every word that proceeds from our mouths. To sum up: We will give an account for our own lives; we give an account for the lives of our wives and children; we will give an account for those in our churches; and we will give an account for our relationships with everyone we know. Let us by no means forsake our wives, but let us by all means pour ourselves out for the good everyone in our lives. Let what Paul said of himself be true of us as well,
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
– 1 Corinthians 9:19-23