The Meaning of Manhood

One of my favorite things to do while cleaning the kitchen or doing other chores around the house is to call my mom. It’s become a pattern, so much so that when I call, she’ll jokingly say, “You must be cleaning the kitchen.”

In a recent conversation, I confessed how I’ve struggled as a husband. I explained how I’d failed to fully grasp what true manhood looked liked. For most of my life, I’d assumed that if I was taking care of myself—working, paying my bills, buying my food and finding adequate shelter—I was fulfilling God’s calling in manhood.

As I grew in my understanding of biblical manhood, I discovered that true manhood demanded more of me. As a single man, I had failed to put into practice what I knew marriage would require. I secretly thought that marriage would miraculously change me and make me a better man. I didn’t drink from the fountain of true manhood as a single guy, so I’m now drinking from a fire hose as a new husband. Now I’m learning the hard way about the high and hard calling of manhood.

Jesus’ Selflessness and Sacrifice

Jesus’ life embodied true masculinity. How could it not? No doubt, we could produce a long list of characteristics that Jesus embodied that made him a real man, but two noteworthy traits are his selflessness and sacrifice.

Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels are soaked in these themes. When asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus responds,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 22.36–40″>Matthew 22:36–40)

Furthermore, Jesus taught us to not only love our neighbor, but to love and pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). It’s easier to sacrifice and act selflessly toward those we feel are worthy of our affection, love and resources, but true manhood is displayed when we freely and selflessly sacrifice for the unworthy.

Alongside his teaching, Jesus added an unsurpassed testament to his selflessness and sacrifice: the increasing lowliness of his life, even to death. Throughout his ministry, he selflessly gave up his time, energy and resources for the sake of others. Paul writes that Christ “made himself nothing” and took on “the very nature of a servant.” Paul admonishes us to embrace this mentality: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5–8). Christ’s lifestyle is a model not only for the married, but also for how unmarried men (and women) should live.

Jesus best displayed his selflessness and sacrifice when he freely went to the cross for the good of his bride, from obedience to his Father and for the joy set before him. Our perfect Savior died for a bride that had unassailably proven herself unworthy of such a sacrifice. Which presents a beautiful picture of how sinful husbands should love and cherish their wives.