True Men

June 13, 2012

My last two posts on being a man haven’t been very serious. I don’t actually think that manliness is defined by things like blowing stuff up, gutting fish, eating bacon, and lifting weights. Men can still be men while having a variety of interests. Men also come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and from many different backgrounds.

But there’s one thing all true men have in common: they submit to God’s authority. This submission includes living with integrity and being faithful, gracious, forgiving, and loving. It includes putting others before oneself, being willing to die for others, and even dying to oneself for others on a daily basis. Real manliness requires (among other things) service to others and submission to God.

Though I’m trying to become a true man, in this lifetime I’ll always be striving, never achieving. Though I can get closer to what God demands of me (i.e., perfection), I’ll never attain it. And I’ll never get anywhere without God’s grace.

One day, though, Christ will return to bring justice to the earth. On that day, he’ll perfect those who’ve submitted to him. On that day, Christ will transform me into the man he intended me to be.

For now, I’ll strive, by God’s grace, to become a truer and truer man until that bright and dreadful morning when Christ sets all things right.

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Day 120: Soli Deo Gloria

January 27, 2012

Yesterday afternoon, we decided to clean our kitchen and living room, with me opting for the former and you the latter. Before we started, though, you went upstairs to lay the baby down. 30 minutes later, you still hadn’t come back. So I crept upstairs to confirm my suspicion that you’d fallen asleep. You had. For my act of love, then, I let you sleep and I cleaned the kitchen and the living room myself.

It wouldn’t be hard to guess how this scenario would likely have played out a year ago. I probably would have woken you up so that you could do your job or let you sleep but made sure you cleaned later. In either case, though, I might have suspected that you fell asleep intentionally (love believes the best, anyone?) and even subtly accused you of that.

Now though, my thoughts are less and less about how to satisfy my needs and desires (though they are about that, which isn’t necessarily bad) and more and more about how to satisfy your needs and desires.* Throughout my day, my thoughts consistently and automatically turn toward you. I’m also gaining a clearer understanding of what it is that God requires of me as a husband, the purpose for which he designed marriage, what things please you, what kind of person you are and want to be, etc.

In addition, I’m happier and I desire you more. Sure, there are times when I do things for you purely from a sense of duty. But, week by week, my obligations and feelings (i.e., desires and emotions) are lining up. As a newlywed, I had strong (positive!) feelings for you and a sense of duty to commit to you and treat you well, but lacked a firm character underlying my feelings. Then I went through a time in which my feelings waned and my sense of duty remained, while my character slowly developed (due in part, it seems, to my commitment to you). Through 365, I’m happy to be in a place where my character is developing and feelings for you are welling up from that character.

But don’t get me wrong. Even though there’s been change, I’m far from where I need to be. Though my thoughts are less about me than they were, they’re still mostly about me. I’m still entrenched in false beliefs, whether dispositional or occurrent, about who sits on the throne of my life. My desires and emotions continually favor me over God, you, or others. I’m sick of it. What’s worse, though, is that I’m absolutely certain that I’m blind to most of my selfishness. (But it’s by God’s grace that I am and that he reveals my sin to me little by little, since I might despair if I saw it in full view.*)

I’m not going to kid myself, then. 120 days isn’t going to reverse dispositions long established. And while working on my marriage is good, many other aspects of my life and character need transformation. Yet, I’m making progress, however slight.

I chalk this progress up to the grace of God. It’s all by his grace. It’s by grace alone. Grace, grace, grace. Grace. The impetus for working out my relationship with you is God working in me (Phil. 2:12-13). In other words, without God’s work in me, there would be no heart change.

Soli Deo Gloria

*Obviously this doesn’t exhaust my daily thought life. My primary goal is to make God the consistent and automatic object of my thought.

*I got this point from Keller.


Day 84: Renewing My Mind

December 22, 2011

Last night, I attempted to ingrain the characteristics of love into my mind by memorizing I Corinthians 13:4-7. Here it is, from memory (except I drew a blank on the word ‘resentful’):

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I’m saturating my mind with a correct understanding of love, in order that I might be transformed into the kind of person from whom loving acts naturally flow (Rom. 12:2). (There’s more to transformation than this, but renewing your mind is certainly part of it.) I don’t want to commit loving acts for you through gritted teeth but from a loving heart (not that the latter is characteristic of the way I act).

 

“Love must be sincere” (Rom. 12:9).