January 24, 2023 | Family by Mike Powers
What are the genuine marks of godliness in a man? Not just in a human generally, but in a man particularly? Our culture is filled with false and misleading ideas about the nature of genuine masculinity, but none of them offer lasting hope. Because God created men, God defines, in His Word, what godly manhood looks like. I would offer nine marks from the Scripture for how to define a godly man.
First, a godly man is a man of the Gospel. Godly manhood begins not with strength but with weakness. Physical strength is one of man’s gifts from the Lord, but godliness starts with admitting our spiritual weakness apart from God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul writes, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” A man who leads well leads from a place of grace-filled service. Consider our Lord Jesus, the manliest man ever, whose whole life was marked by submission to the Father.
Second, a godly man is a man of repentance. If we understand the Gospel and thus our weakness, we know that we often fail and fall short of God’s ideal for us. Godly men know how to repent and how to turn from sin. Here’s a simple way to gauge whether or not you are practicing repentance: Take a moment and name a sin you committed in the past day or even the past week. If you can’t do that, then maybe you aren’t taking time to walk in repentance.
Third, a godly man is a man of prayer. Godly men pray out loud with others, we pray quietly by ourselves, we pray with our families, and we pray with our wives. If, as Paul says, our strength is found in our weakness, then let your weakness be expressed through your dependence on prayer. Many of you may know that I lost my dad about a year ago. He was a massive influence in my life. He became a Christian about the time I was born, so as I grew up, he grew in his faith. My dad wasn’t one to talk about his emotions, but he was quick to pray. Some of my sweetest memories of my dad were hearing him pray out loud for my family and me.
A godly man is a man of the Bible. Real men love the Word and know the Word. It is more manly to quote Scripture than to know the big game's point spread or to memorize your favorite ballplayer's batting average. I detest a culture that assigns the primary responsibility of teaching children the Word to mom while the father is distant, off working, playing golf, or whatever. Distance from the Word does not define manhood; closeness to the Word does.
A godly man is a man of the church. Real men are active in church, not just at men’s gatherings, but in worship services, Life Groups, and classes. Men should be leading, teaching, serving, and loving when the church gathers.
A godly man is a man of worship; in this case, I particularly mean worship by singing. No, not all men sing well, but all men who love Jesus should gather with the church and sing. Again, my dad stands out as an example to me in this way. He was a very reserved man, even in church. But he sang with his whole heart. You don’t have to be waving your hands around – honestly, I often don’t raise my hands in worship during the church service. But I am in the service every week, and when I look out at the congregation, I see many men who look like they had practically been dragged to church that morning. It would radically change our church if every man sang out this Sunday in worship.
A godly man is a man of purity. Our culture has made sexual perversion a manly thing, such that masculinity is often equated with being a sexual predator. Real men protect and honor women; they don’t objectify and abuse them. Consider Ephesians 5:3–4: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Be a godly man by being pure.
A godly man is a man of leadership. The Bible calls for men to lead in the home and at church. To be clear, women lead in many ways as well. But you and I, as men, must be ready and willing to lead. And as we follow our greatest leader, the Lord Jesus, we recall that authentic leadership requires service and sacrifice. Not everyone is an out-front, take-charge kind of leader. Some lead quietly by example, by service. But real men lead joyfully and do so in a Jesus-modeling way.
And let me highlight another aspect of leadership by saying that a godly man is a man of sacrifice. In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Godly men follow the example of Jesus by laying down our lives. Let me close this article with another memory of my dad, whom I’ve mentioned several times already. My dad was always the last to serve himself at a meal. He was the type who wanted everyone else to have their fill and insisted on taking less for himself. He wasn’t perfect, but I was blessed to have a man in my life who exemplified sacrifice and pursued Jesus.
I will close with a reminder of the passage I quoted earlier in 2 Corinthians. The essence of genuine manhood is found in the reality of dependence, not in a myth of independence. We pursue His strength by trusting God, looking to Jesus, and admitting our weakness.
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).