True Masculinity: Embracing Responsibility, Power, and Maturity

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In today’s world, we see a lot of adult men running around and acting like they are still children. They may look like men on the outside, but their actions, maturity, and lifestyles do not line up with what true masculinity looks like. They abuse and take advantage of women. They look to material possessions to tell them what they are worth. They depend too much on others to bail them out of tough situations. They expect other people, like their wives, to take care of them and clean up after them, as if they were still a child.

Today we continue our series of posts on Reverse Engineering, looking at the differences between a boy and a man, and how Jesus Himself modeled growing from one to the other. 

Wisdom AND Stature

The Bible doesn’t give us much about Jesus’ life between his birth and when He started His ministry at age 30. However, there is one story in Luke that takes place when Jesus is twelve that is very interesting, and will help us understand a little bit more about our topic today.

Read the entire story in Luke 2:41-52, but to paraphrase: Jesus and His parents go to the temple when He is twelve years old. When His parents leave, they realize Jesus isn’t with them and He is gone for three days. Finally, they find him in the Temple, amazing the teachers there with His wisdom and knowledge. In the end, He goes back to Nazareth with them. The story ends with a sentence that I want to unpack, though we will only get to the first half of it today: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 (NIV)

The next time we hear about Jesus, He is 30 years old and beginning His ministry. That one sentence summarizes the next eighteen years of His life. So when we look at the man that Jesus was in His thirties, this sentence sheds some life on how He became that.

What does it mean that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature? The first thing to note here is that by the way this sentence is structured, wisdom and stature are directly linked. This is an easily missed, but vital, detail. Basically, what it is saying is that these two things are inseparable and must move forward together if a man is ever going to get to where he is going. 

Stature means age and physical maturity. Jesus developed physically, sexually, and in responsibility, like all boys will eventually do. It is a natural process. Wisdom, in this context, is more than just intelligence. It means the ability to make wise choices and use good judgment. 

If we allow our bodies to mature, but do not also mature in wisdom, we become what we see a lot of in the world today: a bunch of 30/40 year old children. They may be physically mature, they may have a lot of money, but their mindset is still that of a selfish child. But unlike a child, they have much more opportunity to create bigger consequences for themselves and the people around them.

Stature means age and physical maturity. Jesus developed physically, sexually, and in responsibility, like all boys will eventually do. It is a natural process. Wisdom, in this context, is more than just intelligence. It means the ability to make wise choices and use good judgment. 

If we allow our bodies to mature, but do not also mature in wisdom, we become what we see a lot of in the world today: a bunch of 30/40 year old children. They may be physically mature, they may have a lot of money, but their mindset is still that of a selfish child. But unlike a child, they have much more opportunity to create bigger consequences for themselves and the people around them.

Jesus apparently realized this at a young age, either through Himself, or His parents, or God, that if there were any hope of getting close to the target of His life, it wasn’t going to happen by accident. His wisdom had to keep pace with his stature, because the opportunity, equipment, and responsibility we have as men in the hands of someone without any wisdom is a recipe for destruction.

But that isn’t to say that it’s too late for you. You can look back at your life and say, “Yeah, my wisdom absolutely did not keep pace with my stature, and I made a lot of mistakes.” Well, me too. The point of this post is not to make you feel guilty. The point is to say “don’t give up.” Get up, and re-aim your life at a better target and do what you have to do to get to where you want. I say it a lot, but all we have is from now on. So, don’t weigh yourself down with guilt. Let’s look forward together and see what we can do next.

Money, Sex, Power, and Responsibility

So, what are those big areas of our lives that a boy becoming a man, or a man wanting to become a better, more wise man, has to pay attention to? The main three areas I have seen that can either prove that a man really is a man, or on the flipside have the potential for the greatest consequences if not done right, are money, sex, and power.

A lot of problems in our lives, the lives of the people we love, and in the world in general can be traced back to a man mis-using his finances, getting off track sexually, or abusing his power in a way that oppresses the people around him. And men most often mess up in these areas when they have not grown in wisdom at the same rate as their stature physically, financially, and influentially.

Growing in wisdom in these areas equates to learning how to take on responsibility. Real men take responsibility for their lives. He doesn’t make excuses, or blame everything going on in his life on everybody else or what happened to him in the past. He recognizes that some of that stuff may have shaped who he has become, but his life is his own now and no one is going to fix it for him. When a man learns how to take responsibility for his own life, he can then begin to make a plan for how to get to where he wants to be.

Conclusion

We’ll continue with Luke 2:52 next time, but for now the main takeaway is that the best way for a boy to grow into a man is for his wisdom to keep pace with his maturing stature. If that doesn’t happen, then we are left with a bunch of boys who can shave and potentially wreak havoc on their lives and the lives of innocent people around them. Where in your life does your wisdom need to catch up with your stature?

TL;DR

  • The Bible tells us Jesus grew in wisdom AND stature. Those two things are intentionally linked.

  • Wisdom must keep pace with stature as a boy grows from a boy to a man.

  • If you are already a man whose wisdom did not keep pace, it is not too late. Get up and re-aim your life at Jesus.

  • Money, sex, and power are probably the three main areas of life that have the biggest consequences for wisdom not keeping pace with stature.

  • Real men take responsibility for their lives and do not make excuses.

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