Man of God – Intro to Anatomy

Posted: 01/27/2011 in Fruit of the Spirit, Man of God, Musings, Personal Walk, Running the Race

Not sure why I am talking about Anatomy and Physiology in the context of being a Godly man? Before going any further, don’t start on the wrong foot, make sure you have read:
Man of God – Anatomy & Physiology

a·nat·o·my [uh-nat-uh-mee]:
1.   the science of the characteristics of the structure of an organism
2.   the characteristics of God which are a result of the Holy Spirit
(Fruit of the Spirit “FOTS”)
phys·i·ol·o·gy [fiz-ee-ol-uh-jee]:
1.   the functions and activities of living organisms
2.   the function of the FOTS in the activities “men of God” in the Bible
(Moses, Samuel, David, Timothy…)

Anatomy 101: Fruit of the Spirit

Last night I didn’t sleep well. I’ll admit, part of it is my fault: over the past week, I have single-handedly consumed enough coffee to keep Starbucks and Juan Valdez economically secure. However, in addition to the caffeine coursing through my veins, I could not stop thinking about the Fruit of the Spirit being a list of attributes for a Man of God.

“Wait… the Fruit of the Spirit?!?” you might ask, “Those nine attributes, which are so often neatly and demurely cross-stitched and hung with austere honor and a layer of dust on a wall in a bathroom or kitchen, kept you awake?


But you see thats the point. When I think about attributes to define a stalwart man of God, the idea that they would be described, most often, on something that could be purchased at Cracker Barrel or the state fair seems discordant… at best.

Now if you don’t know me well, I want to start out by saying that I don’t “rock much swagger,” and not many of the things I do would be characterized with machismo. Shoot, while I was growing up I might have even embraced the time-honored art of cross-stitch, including a delightful scene with the Berenstein Bears and pillow with the Super Mario Brothers. But even I, avid cross-stitcher as I once was, am left uneasy and restless with the Fruit of the Spirit.

Doing a bit of online research I found a list that talked about what it looks like to be a “Real Man”:

  1. A real man is strong
  2. A real man is focused
  3. A real man is confident
  4. A real man makes his own fortune
  5. A real man can defend himself
  6. A real man doesn’t look like a woman

Don’t hear what I’m NOT saying. I’m not trying to say that there isn’t ANY truth in these statments, but Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, AskMen, GQ… all seem to have a image of what a man should look like, and love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control aren’t high priorities within the marketing of these ideals.  What often is the resultant product of pursing these attributes is a “Real Man” who is abusive, bullheaded, cocky, selfish, defensive and trying way to hard to assert his masculinity to everyone around him.

I have a second, and more important point:

the view that we have of the Fruit of the Spirit is just as adulterated.

For most people who have grown up in a church, the Fruit of the Spirit seem commonplace and elementary. I would venture to say that the majority of Christians would, when pressed, say that it is:

  1. Cross-stitch fodder OR
  2. Material for this summer’s VBS (just think, we could paint bananas and apples and…)

For any “mature” Christian over the age of ten, there are more important things to concern ourselves with. Lets be serious, give me a grande, soy, 2-pump vanilla no-foam latte and lets do inductive studies, and read our commentaries and listen to our podcasts, and discuss soteriology, eschetology, doctrine-of-the-week-ology.

What are is the Fruit of the Spirit?

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:16-23)

While it might seem like nine different things, Paul, like a using a prism to split light into its many wavelengths, has taken the Fruit of the Spirit: godliness, and shown us the varied attributes that comprise this singluarly beautiful characteristic.

Another way to look at the Fruit of the Spirit is that it describes the communicable attributes of God.

The word communicable is important. Think of a cold, the flu… these are called communicable diseases, which you can only get by being in close proximity with someone who has the illness. The Fruit of the Spirit is the sign of the transformational work the Holy Spirit is having in the life of a Christian as they spend time in relationship and pursing the God who first pursued them.

And like a cold, you either catch it, or you are faking it. This might sound harsh, but I have spent far too many years trying to “fake-it-’til-I-make-it” – to pick one of these attributes and try my hardest to… ACT kind… or ACT patient.   The Fruit of the Spirit is NOT a list of characteristics that Christians are called to self-manufacture through some self-help, 10-step model. The call is for us to BE godly, something that can’t be “faked.”

Secondly that they are attributes of God is important. Paul, writing to the Corinthians wrote:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

So if we are going to call someone a man of God, they would be a man who has Godly attributes. And because this cannot be faked, it is a sign of a man who has a deep relationship with God.

So toss out your idea that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are docile and quaint. These are Godly attributes which course through the veins of a man of God, to the glory and praise of his Lord and King. They bring the perverted image of a “Real Man” that we get from magazines and the media into the light as vain and shallow, and define a true picture of the characteristics, the structure, the anatomy of what it looks like to be a man of God.

And where do we begin on this rousing adventure, declaring the what it looks like to be a man of God?

We’ll start with Love.

  1. shasta says:

    i head this the other day: the only communicable or nosocomial infection our patients should catch is love.


    good post, looking forward to hearing more

  2. Jordan says:

    I’m excited for the rest of these posts, Mike. I really liked your sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit, and this sounds like it will be an extension of that. I look forward to reading them.

  3. Hannah says:

    Thank you!!! I’ve never liked the way men are told that a “real man” has to exert his masculinity to be considered a man. I’ve always looked to the men in the Bible to be true men. They’re a rare breed, and I pray God will rise up more in this difficult age.
    Yet, I am sure the same can be said for women. They’ve been caught up the same perverse perspective of what a true woman is supposed to be. God raised up women in Biblical times who can be seen as strong and yet beautiful in the way He created us to be. Esther and Deborah are my two favorite women God has used to be great role models for us women in these hard days.
    I’m looking forward to your entries!!

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