I’ve only had two boyfriends, and the second one is now my husband. I had a handful (okay, so maybe three or four) dates that didn’t develop into “boyfriend/girlfriend” status. I mostly had friends who were boys. Oh yeah, and two guys who asked me out for the longest time and sort of felt like stalkers…anyways…
For me, dating wasn’t a cure to boredom or lonely Friday nights. After participating in a True Love Waits program, I had determined that I would be as pure physically, spiritually, and emotionally as I could be, should the Lord see fit to give me a husband. How would I go about that? By making a list. Yes, a list. I love lists. Grocery lists are my favorite because when you cross everything off, you have food in your fridge again! I also love to-do lists. (I’m not the only one who writes down tasks I’ve already done so that I can feel like I accomplished something, right?)
Our Sunday School teacher encouraged us to write a list of the character traits that we wanted in our future spouse. We were to think about his personality, how he made us feel, and how he treated us. My original list looked something like this: taller than me, smart, Christian, funny… not much of a list. I didn’t know how to really dig into the important character traits that I wanted my future spouse to possess. As I matured, I wrote new lists that included a growing faith, makes me laugh, holds me when I’m sad, patient, outgoing, there for me when I need him. And in fact, it was this list that helped me pray through whether or not to break up with my first boyfriend (I did).
After that heartbreak (yes, even if you are the one who ends the relationship, your heart still hurts!), I searched the Scriptures more intensely to decipher what God might desire in my future spouse. In 2 Peter 1:5-9, Simon Peter writes to fellow believers about the good gifts that God has given us to help us on earth. The list is applicable and convicting to both males and females. I want to use it in light of the subject of what true biblical manhood looks like. Because these are some of the exact characteristics that should be on your list for what you seek in a future spouse. Take a moment to read 2 Peter 1:5-9, and pay special attention to how Peter uses repetition in these verses.
He Continually Increases in Faith
Wanting to be friends with/date/marry a “Christian” is great. But it’s not enough to date someone who has simply walked the aisle and been baptized sometime in his past. God desires us to marry a person who is actively pursuing a relationship with Him. One who wrestles with his weaknesses and seeks the Lord’s will in everything.
Verses 5-8 give us a great progression of how this happens. Let’s walk through it together. First, he starts with faith. A true man has confessed that Jesus is Lord and submits his life to God’s Lordship. This is the most foundational characteristic. Once he has this faith, Peter calls believers to “supplement” it with goodness. It’s easy to become an arrogant Christian who condescends to everyone else who hasn’t believed the truth yet. But biblical men must first add goodness to their faith. Then, they add knowledge. As he grows in his walk with God, he keeps reading and meditating on Scripture. The Holy Spirit works in him and helps him better understand how great God is. As his knowledge grows, so does his self-control because he better understands that God’s way is best for his life.
Self-control can be a daily struggle, so to it he adds endurance because he must persevere in a broken, sinful world. He then adds godliness because the Lord has used all these character traits to conform him to His image. Brotherly affection becomes a natural overflow because the Lord helps him see the people around him as He sees them. Not as liars or thieves but as His children who desperately need the Lord as their Savior. And finally, brotherly affection turns to love as God has changed his heart. Peter helps all of us understand that faith naturally progresses into character traits that lead us closer in our walk with Christ. A true man of God understands and embraces this progression.
He Is Useful and Fruitful in His Knowledge of Christ
My husband is one of the wisest men I know. He wasn’t raised in church and didn’t come to believe in Jesus as Lord until he was 15. And yet his knowledge of Christ in the past 13 years far surpasses mine, even though I have now spent all 28 years of my life in church. The Lord gave Kevin a desire and a thirst for His Truth. It’s more than just a bunch of trivia that Kevin uses to win Bibleopoly. The Holy Spirit has helped him learn to apply and live out the Gospel. He has shared it in a wide range of contexts and situations. His knowledge is useful. It has brought about spiritual fruit in his own life and has impacted the spiritual lives of the people who have come into contact with him.
He Is Not Short-Sighted
All of us are more prone to worry about this moment rather than the future. We would rather eat the dessert now than wait for the better dessert that’s coming later. We choose to lie on the couch and watch television rather than get up and finish our homework. I could offer you $100 now or $1,000 a year from now, and you might rather have the $100 now.
We are short-sighted people. We want our reward now. But the Lord often calls us to tasks that have no reward on earth. Only when we get to heaven will we understand the impact our actions had to help advance the Gospel. It’s hard to persevere when we know our reward is in heaven and not on earth. But a true man doesn’t work for the applause of the people around him. He seeks out God’s favor and delight. He understands that the Lord created certain physical pleasures for marriage and does not seek them out of their appropriate timing. With the Lord’s help, he makes plans for the future and works to achieve higher goals.
He Remembers His Cleansing from Past Sins
And finally, Peter tells us in this passage to remember our cleansing from past sins. We all stumble in many ways. The Bible tells us that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But a true man doesn’t get caught in a pit of self-pity and guilt. He isn’t paralyzed by His past. Rather, he remains thankful to the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness. As a result, he is better able to extend mercy and forgiveness to people who wrong him.
The Bible doesn’t guarantee that each of us will marry or have awesome dating relationships. And it doesn’t tell us a secret formula for the person we are supposed to spend time with. But the Word of God is still living and active, and the Holy Spirit is still at work in the lives of every believer today. He will help guide us through Scripture and reveal to us what a biblical man looks like. And when we find one, it might just be in His plan for a relationship to bloom.
I encourage each of you, whether you are in a dating relationship now or not, to seek God’s definition of biblical manhood and create a list of your own. One that you keep tucked away for reference as you pray that the Lord will be working in your life and the life of your future spouse.
Father, I thank You that You haven’t left us to navigate this world on our own. Thank You for the Holy Spirit and for the Bible that help us better understand Your will for our lives and how to grow in our relationship with You. Lord, right now, strengthen a generation of men to rise up in their faith and passionately pursue You with their lives. Help us act as encouragers and not distractors. We love You so much.
1 Timothy 3:1-13