Men in the 21st Century
How different is the view of man that the world has compared to how God sees men? Not the same. With father's day upon us we're led to believe that men are for the most part what they play at or what they wear; pretty much what the world tells us about Father's Day. Father's Day gifts suggest that all dad does is play sports, work in the garden, or collect ties. The rest of the time, unfortunately, men are seen mostly as the cause of what is wrong in this world; I'm not talking about mankind, I'm talking about men.
In a thousand different ways the message comes through that the problem in the world, men are the problem in the world. For example, white powerful men are the ones who cause wars and angry black men are the ones that are hurting their communities and zealous religious men are terrorizing the world and greedy business men are ruining our economy and selfish husbands are destroying marriages and absent fathers are responsible for their children's downfall... I could keep the list going.
The common denominator about the list, this mantra, is that men are the problem in this world. The words are different from time to time, but theme is usually the same: men are responsible for most of what's wrong in this world.
Of course, there's a measure of truth found in these accusations and it's actually related in many ways to the lack of success that men have had facing not only the responsibilities they have from a strictly worldly point of view, but also the failure to meet the challenges that are placed before them by God.
Yes, men do those things, but one of the reasons they do those things is because they haven't done the things that God has given them to do. You see when we examine the challenges set forth by God before men specifically, I'm not reaching here, in this or in any century we notice that man's main role whether it's in this century or the past or the future man's main role is one of stewardship, it always has been from the beginning and continues to be one of stewardship from God's perspective.
We think that because our technology and our lifestyles and our ambitions may have changed from century to century that our responsibilities as men have changed. We hear the phrase 'new challenge' so often in our work, in our personal lives, even in our spiritual development we think that means different, as in the challenges we face as men today are somehow different than the challenges of previous years for our fathers going even back to the early disciples of Christ, somehow their challenges were different as men than our challenges are today as men, but the challenge for all men from the very beginning has always been the heavy burden of stewardship.
That's always been man's challenge placed before him by God. Stewardship, an old fashioned word, we see it in the Bible but we don't use it often simply means managing something on behalf of another, that's stewardship.
And so from Adam to Christ and from Christ to this very day in 2013 God has always challenged the believing men of this world to become His chief stewards of three important things on His behalf and I'd like to briefly share these three things with you this morning.
1. Men are still the chief stewards of the creation
We call it something different now, we call it 'the environment.' They used to call it 'Mother Nature,' those who were shy in giving God the glory and the credit for having made everything they found another way to refer to the reality around them; we no longer call it the creation, we call it the environment.
God in the beginning put Adam and Eve as stewards in the garden and they were responsible for managing it.
26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 29Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.
- Genesis 1:26-30
After the fall, even after the flood, there was no repeal of this responsibility; you don't read anywhere in the Bible where God says at some point, "You know that thing I said to you in Genesis 1 there about being the steward of the creation? OK, scratch that. You're not responsible for that anymore, it'll just take care of itself from here." I've never read that anywhere.
Man, still with the cooperation of woman, continues to be responsible for the 'environment,' except now the work would cause him much more grief than before, much more trouble (Genesis 3:17).
And haven't we seen the trouble? The tornadoes and the floods and the earthquakes and the droughts and so on and so forth, that's the trouble. God said it was going to be a joy to do it before sin, you still have to do it after sin, you're still the stewards of it after the fall, but now it's going to cost you, now it's going to be problematic, but the responsibility is still there.
I believe that we are very wrong to think that just because we are Christians we're going to heaven, we believe that God one day will burn up the existing heavens and earth, that we don't have to worry about the creation, that this business about environmentalism, for example, that's not for us, God's going to burn this place up anyways, no use taking care of this place.
As Christians, and especially as Christian men, we are especially responsible for the earth until Jesus comes. That stewardship given at the very beginning continues to this day, whether your steward of a quarter acre or just 7,000 square feet of land or a 1,200 square foot apartment or a thousand acres or ten thousand acre ranch, you're still a steward of this place. We still have responsibilities.
Those of us who have children we know that our children eventually are going to grow up, become adults, and then they're going to age as we have aged and then you'll eventually die, won't they? But that doesn't preclude us from taking care of them now, doesn't it? We still feed them, we still take care of them, we still spoil them, we still dress them, we still educate them, we still want them to have a good life while they're here, even though we know eventually they're going to die.
We should have that same attitude because of the stewardship that God has given us for His creation. That's one responsibility that we as Christian men have.
2. Men are also still the chief stewards of the family
After the fall God made woman subject to man in their relationship and Paul confirms not only man's headship in the natural order between man and woman, as well as being leaders in the home.
1Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 2Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
- I Corinthians 11:1-3
Man has stewardship in the family.
22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
- Ephesians 5:22-24
If there is trouble in the home today and children are straying and women are dissatisfied, I have to say that the majority of the blame should be laid at the feet of men. They have had the greatest responsibility.
Oh, it's nice; I've seen guys read this, and to their wives even, 'Look what it says, I'm the head, I'm the boss,' but they like to take that responsibility from a worldly perspective, not from a heavenly perspective, not as the suffering servant, not as the one willing to sacrifice their life for their wives, not as one who's ready to lay down his body, his likes, his comfort, his strength, his energy, his pride, and lay those things before his wife in service to her.
I've never met a woman, married to a man like that, who was afraid to be in submission to a man like that. As men are like Christ, women respond to a spiritual individual. I don't say this to discourage, but rather to encourage men to take the responsibilities and not be worried what is politically correct or what is not politically correct in this day and this age.
If God makes you the "Head" you don't have to apologize to anybody for your leadership role, especially to non-believers and those who blaspheme Christ. I don't need to apologize for my role in my family that God has made me responsible for.
I don't have to apologize to Hollywood or somebody who disagrees, I don't have to apologize for that. I'm not responsible to the world. I'm responsible to God and I'm responsible as a man for the stewardship of my family and the greatest blessing that I have as a man is that I am married to a woman who helps me with that role, who encourages me in that role, who supports me in that role, who is proud of me because I am in submission to Jesus Christ.
3. Men are chief stewards of the church
From the very beginning men have offered the sacrifice: Seth and Abel and Noah and Aaron and the priests; on behalf of the family at first, and then the tribe, and then the nation.
When Jesus came there was a marvelous historic opportunity to perhaps change that perspective and be more inclusive as far as the responsibility for the body of Christ, but what did He do? He knew the mind of God and He knew that His church would survive until He returned, whether that would be a hundred years or a thousand years or 10,000 years. And what did He do? He chose men to be apostles. If there was ever an opportunity to break with tradition, to establish a new road, just one sister could have been appointed as an apostle, just one, but He didn't do that. You think He was afraid?
Somebody's all, 'Well, you know He had to... He was afraid of the custom.' He was? The One who healed on the Sabbath, the One who just ate without going all through the rituals? He was afraid of custom? He was afraid of what they might say? Really? And then what happened? He instructed them to appoint men as elders and as teachers and as evangelists and as deacons to lead His church.
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
- I Timothy 3:1
It would have been easy for the Holy Spirit to say, 'If anyone,' or 'If any person,' but He doesn't say that.
2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.
- I Timothy 3:2-10
So who did He choose to be in the various positions of leadership in the church? He chose men. He even gives detailed instructions about what kind of men ought to serve in these things. He even specified that women were not to teach or to lead men in the church or even speak in the public assembly (I Corinthians 14:34)).
What does all this mean for us today?
So what does this view of man as chief steward of the creation and the family and the church, what does it mean for us today in the 21st century?
Well, first of all it doesn't mean that God loves women less or that He is inconsiderate of women or their skills and talents, it doesn't mean that. It simply means that in His wisdom He has given man the stewardship for the creation and the family and the church. And I want to make a point here; man did not cheat or overpower women for this role as some would have you think. You read some modern literature about roles in society, male/female, and you would think that somehow men cheated their way into this responsibility or men overpowered their way into this responsibility, but that's not so.
Man didn't cheat or overpower. Even though he may have failed at times, this has always been his role. It's always been man's role. He hasn't done it well, but it's always been his responsibility. It also means that men will only succeed at being good stewards in these areas if they themselves submit to God. You see it's not enough to be a man, it's being God's man that makes your leadership in creation and in the home and in the church successful.
It isn't maleness that makes it work, it's meekness that makes it work. Actually maleness sometimes works against it, because men are proud and they're headstrong in many ways and they often rely on their own strength and stewards of God's home and creation and church, usually the hardest lesson to learn is the one about meekness and patience and submission before there is success in these areas.
And finally it means that when we consider men in this world we are looking at someone who has been given a very important responsibility by God. The best that the world can do for men is to perhaps give them a tie or a toy on Father's Day, but God's men need and deserve a lot more than this if they're to meet the great challenges is that God has specifically laid out for them.
They need respect from their families and their support in order to succeed. I've seen many times in marriages and in families, the wife will say, "Yeah. Yeah. He's the head of the home until I say so," or "He makes all the important decisions until there's a really important decision." That's not in the spirit of submission. Men needs respect in order to succeed at these difficult tasks. They also need to take themselves and their stewardship seriously if they're to win the respect of those they serve. You earn respect.
I have no military background, but from what I observe in the military, they give you one stripe or two stripes or so many stripes and you automatically are over somebody who's got less stripes than you, that happens in the military. They have to give it to you. They have to respect you, even if you don't deserve it, but anybody in the military and anybody who's ever worked for someone else who's incompetent and over you knows how difficult that can be.
And so men need to take their role, if you're an elder you need to be serious about that in the church. If you're a deacon, if you're a father, you need to be serious about that, that's not a side job. Being a husband and father is not a side job. "I was doing this and I was doing this and I was doing that, and oh yeah, and I got married and so I just added another ball in the air." No, when you get married, that's the main ball up in the air.
And then they also need to nourish their inner man, because God steward cannot accomplish their tasks using the natural strength of man. God's stewards need the power of the Spirit working within themselves to do the work of God successfully. You can tell when God's work is not being done successfully; that's when there's arguing and fussing and backstabbing and division, there's stuff going on, but it's not good stuff. Men need to take the time to read God's Word and to be alone in prayer and to appeal to God for strength and wisdom and understanding to be able to carry out the responsibilities that He is laying on their shoulders.
And so I encourage you therefore my brother's to understand what God wants from you as men and joyfully take on your roles as chief stewards of God's creation, whatever part of that He's given to you, and God's family and God's church, and know that with His help and with His power in Christ you will be found to be true and faithful to your calling when He comes to judge all of us for our stewardship as men of God.
And of course, God bless you and have a blessed Father's Day. It's a wonderful thing to be honored as a man, as a father, as a steward of God's blessings. And so as I close, I appeal to not just men, but two men and women, concerning their souls.
You can be good to the environment and you can raise a decent family, but these things cannot be exchanged for your soul. You you can save the forest in the Amazon and if you do that single-handedly, that's a wonderful thing for the forest in South America, but you cannot change that work for your soul.
Only faith in Jesus Christ expressed in repentance and baptism, only that washes away sin and guarantees eternal life. And so I encourage you men and women to come, to cleanse away your guilt in baptism; come also to be restored through prayer, especially on this particular day if you need help to be a better steward, to be a better dad, to be a better deacon, to be a better elder, to be a better man, what a wonderful day to come and receive the prayers of the church as we stand and as we sing our song of encouragement.