Virtue - The Measure of a Man

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 17, 2013 2 comments

I’m going to tell you right up front that, because I think it is so important to do so, I’m going to focus this writing on a specific gender, as you might have guessed from the title. Of course, it will be just as important to you ladies out there because some of you are the leaders in your families, your schools, and your jobs. Even if you are not, every one of you knows a man. You may look up to one, marry one, or raise one, and your influence regarding his virtues is obvious. However, I believe that men are largely failing when it comes to the virtues God had intended for them. In my job, I see broken families every day that are mainly due to the failures of men, especially those who have manipulated, abused, and abandoned women and children. Our country experienced a “government shutdown” mainly because a group of elected officials, the large majority of whom are men, could not, and sometimes still cannot solve problems as they were elected to do. God intended for men to bless, love, and serve others, not to hurt or lead them astray.

Earlier this week, I watched a segment on ESPN that illustrated my point perfectly. The segment was about the connection between Steve Gleason, a former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints who now suffers from the disease ALS, and Eddie Vedder, lead singer for the band Pearl Jam. The disease has rendered Gleason, a husband and father to a 2-year old son, incapable of talking or moving. He is only able to communicate through a machine attached to his wheelchair. He talks about how the music of Pearl Jam has always inspired him and does so even more now in his tragic condition. In the segment, he gets a chance to interview the band first as a whole, then Vedder individually. The interview between Gleason and Vedder was particularly touching. Gleason talks about how the experts say he only has 2-5 years to live and he is making a video for his son so that when he grows up he will know what kind of a man his dad was. He asks Vedder, who did not know his dad, what he wishes he knew about his father? Vedder instantly tears up, and then says two absolutely critical things. First, he says he wishes he had gotten to know his father and to know if he loved him. Second, he says he would’ve loved to have his father there to teach him how to be a “good man”, because his dad’s absence has forced him to try to figure it out on his own. This is a grown man who is the lead singer of a popular and successful band, yet none of his success could overshadow the tragedy of not knowing his father and never learning how to be virtuous.

I may not remember much about the three years I spent in high school studying Latin, but I certainly recall that “vir” means “man”. The word “virtue” comes from the Latin “virtus” which means “strength, manliness”, according to Webster. I apologize if that offends anyone, but I didn’t create the definition. I believe that God created all of us in his own image and likeness as Genesis tells us, but that our sin has defiled what He created in us. While I believe that is true for all humans, I believe that men in particular have failed to lead as God created and commanded us to do. The story of Steve Gleason and Eddie Vedder shows me that, because of sin, virtues are now taught more than they are inherent in us. The question is what is the source of what we teach?

The answer to the question is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to Titus. In Chapter 2, Paul tells Titus what must be taught to various groups of people in the church. Of particular interest to me is what he says about older men in verse 2, and then younger men in vv. 6-8. These verses are essentially lists of virtues, including being “temperate, self-controlled, worthy of respect, sound in faith, love, and endurance, and teaching with integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech”. The only virtue that is mentioned for both older and younger men is “self-control”, and Paul mentions it again later in the chapter when he says that the “grace of God” has taught us to resist worldly passions and to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” (vv. 11-12).

The source of what men are taught regarding living virtuously MUST be the grace of God. Yes, sin took away the inherent virtues God created in us. But the grace of God through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the strength and power to resist temptations and live according to the virtues modeled by Jesus himself. Paul’s letter was to Titus, who was being put in charge of the Christians on the island of Crete. He knew how critical it would be for the growth and sustenance of the Church to have virtuous living being taught to the various groups of people BY the various groups of people. For you women, my challenge is to model virtuous living for each other and for those around you, including men. You have the ability to hold us accountable and to encourage us toward our virtues. For you men, my challenge is to step up and be who God called you to be by His grace. You are leaders, and your virtuous living or lack thereof will be passed on to others. The past is irrelevant, so make a choice today to teach, encourage, and be an example of virtuosity to the other men around you.


Mom Ames said...

So true. To live by grace, men and women alike only need take two simple steps:
1. Recognize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. In other words, repent and earnestly desire to discontinue sinning.
2. Believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and confess with your mouth that God raised Him from the dead.

The promise is that you will be saved! God will not count your sins (past, present and future) against you.

Logan said...

Glad you chose to read it mom. Thanks for speaking the truth too. I will say that those steps are not simple. In fact, they are impossible without the help of a gracious God. Praise Him that he gave us the Holy Spirit to lead us to recognition of our sin and repentance and to help us believe when the world makes us doubt!