There is much confusion about manhood. Should a man hold the door for a lady? Pay for his date’s meal? Be a one-woman man? Take his kids to the ball game, or to church? Should a man be the sole provider of his family, or is it okay to be a stay-at-home dad? Should a man avoid marriage and children as long as possible, or embrace them as gifts of God? What is true strength? What is true masculinity? Our world needs good men. Strong men. Men of God. Men of the Word of God. This sermon examines 13 qualities of a real man in Titus 1:6-9.
THE QUALITIES OF A REAL MAN
By Andy Manning
The title of this sermon is “The Qualities of a Godly Man.” Who comes to mind when you hear the word “real man?” John Wayne? Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead? Michael Jordan? Tom Brady? William Wallace from Braveheart? Bear Grylls from Man v. Wild? Chris Kyle of American Sniper? I remember when that movie came out. One of my buddies saw it before me and he said, “Chris Kyle is the definition of a real man.” Or what about someone like Donald Trump, or Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg? What about Jesus Christ? While all the men I just mentioned have some admirable qualities, the true standard of manhood, or real masculinity is Jesus Christ. And the most manly men are those who love and imitate Jesus – Moses, King David, Daniel, the Apostle Paul. Those are real men.
What kinds of qualities come to mind when you think of manhood, or masculinity? How about some of these?
Real men drink their coffee black. Real men don’t cry. Real men don’t laugh. They are straight-faced. Real men wear boots. Real men drive trucks. Real men know how to start a fire and tie a knot. Real men don’t wear pink. Real men are good with their hands and know how to fix stuff (handy). Real men are mechanical. Real men know how to hunt and fish. Real men are grill masters. Real men are athletic, and they know sports. Real men are muscular. Real men don’t have long hair.
The problem with these qualities is that they don’t really have anything to do with real manhood. It’s not that these qualities are bad; many of them are good; but they don’t define real manhood. After all, Jesus didn’t have many of these qualities. Jesus didn’t drink coffee, or wear boots, or drive a big truck; Jesus didn’t know anything about the sports that we play; there’s no record of Him playing sports at all; and Jesus may have worn pink. As well, if these qualities are what define true manhood, does that mean a real woman does not have any of these? Does a real woman not wear boots, or drive a truck? Does a real woman have to wear pink? Is a true woman not mechanical – not handy? You see, these qualities don’t really define true manhood. They are merely social constructs – they are ideas that have been developed by our society over time. They aren’t necessarily bad things, but they don’t define true manhood.
So what does it mean to be a real man? Today I we’re going to discover the qualities of a real man from the Bible. We’re going to let the Bible, not the world, tell us what it means to be a real man. Turn with me to Titus 1:6-9. In this passage, Paul is writing to a young pastor named Titus, who is leading a number of churches on the island of Crete. And Paul is writing some in instructions to Titus on how to get these churches organized and healthy. The first thing that Paul tells Titus to do is to appoint elders at every church. An elder is the same thing as a pastor, or an overseer, or a bishop. And then Paul gives Titus a number of qualities that a man must have in order to be appointed as an elder. Let’s read the passage in its entirety and the we’ll look at each quality, one at a time.
6 An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion. 7 As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it. (CSB)
A quick question. Are these qualities only for pastors, or are they for all men? These are qualities all men must strive for, but in order to be a pastor you must already have these qualities. How do I know that these qualities are for all men? All of these qualities are emphasized elsewhere in the Bible as general commands for all believers. As well, one of the primary jobs of the pastor is to set an example for the people. So the reason that the pastor must possess the qualities is so that he can set an example for the other men in the church.
So let’s take a look at these qualities, one at a time. These are the qualities of a real man. The qualities of real manhood, or real masculinity. If you want to be a real man, then aim for these.
- The husband of one wife.
Titus 1:6 says, “An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife.” First Paul says that a godly man must be blameless. That’s a general word that he uses twice in this passage. It means that he must be blameless when it comes to all of these qualities.
And the first quality is “the husband of one wife.” Notice that the first quality of a godly man has to do with marriage. You don’t have to get married to be a real man, but most men do get married. And if you are married, then your marriage is God’s top priority for you, after your relationship with God.
Here’s a though for you. A real man is devoted to building a healthy, prevailing marriage. In other words, a real man does whatever it takes for his marriage to be healthy.
Men, let me ask you something. Is your wife happy? If she’s not, then that’s on you. It’s not your job to make her happy, but it’s your job to lead her to happiness. Let me put it this way. Are you the source of your wife’s unhappiness? Dr. Willard Harley, the great marriage counselor, said that the secret to a great marriage is simple. Do things that make each other happy, and avoid doing things that make each other unhappy. Are you the source of your wife’s unhappiness?
Here’s another way to put it. Does your wife regret marrying you? Is your wife better off with you than she was before you came along and married her? Your wife should be better off under your care than she was under the care of her father. Is that the case? A real man does whatever it takes to build a healthy, prevailing marriage.
Notice Paul’s words in verse 6. The “husband of one wife.” What does that mean? Is this simply a prohibition against divorce, or against polygamy, or against a widow getting remarried? No. In Greco-Roman culture it was common for a man to have a wife and one or more concubines (mistress). This wasn’t considered to be polygamous or adulterous. But Paul was making it clear that a real man, a godly Christian man, needs to have one wife. He needs to be a one-woman man. He needs to be faithful and true to one woman. He needs to be committed to faithful, monogamous marriage.
In other words, Paul is saying that a real man is committed to being a faithful husband. This is about sexual purity. A real man is a one-woman man. He concentrates all of his sexual energy on his wife, and her alone – visually, mentally, and physically. A real man stays away from porn, and strip clubs; a real man doesn’t flirt with other women; a real man doesn’t commit adultery.
- Faithful children.
Look at Titus 1:6 again. “An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion.”
Notice that the second quality of a real man has to do with his children. First, his wife, and second, his children. That’s a reflection of God’s priorities for you. God’s priorities for your life are first, spiritual; second, spouse; and third, seed, or children.
Here’s a thought for you: A real man is a good father. But what does it mean to be a good father? Paul uses the phrase “faithful children”; what does that mean? It doesn’t mean that your children are believers. That’s out of your control. You can influence your children to Christ, but in the end they must make their own decision about Him. You’ve heard the old expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Instead, this phrase means that the children are submissive and obedient to their father. It’s similar to the phrase “faithful servant.” A faithful servant is one who is respectful, submissive, obedient, trustworthy, reliable, and devoted to pleasing the master. A faithful child is the same. Submissive and obedient. Well behaved. 1 Timothy 3:4 says something similar. “He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity.” A real man has his children under control. His children are well-behaved.
To put it negatively, a real man’s children “are not accused of wildness or rebellion.” A real man’s children are not wild, rebellious, disobedient, and disrespectful. They are under control. They are obedient and submissive to their father.
How do you raise well-behaved kids? Discipline. The word “discipline” means to teach; it has to do with teaching your children how to behave. Your children will behave the way you teach them to behave. If you don’t like your child’s behavior, guess who’s at fault? You. Your children will behave the way you teach them to.
Now there’s a positive and a negative side to discipline. The positive side involves teaching them the right way to behave. The negative side involves correcting them when they behave wrongly. And correction can take two forms: Verbal, and corporal.
A lot of dads these days refuse to spank their kids. But refusing to spank your kids is not an act of love, it’s a sign of weakness. It takes emotional strength to spank your kids, or to let them suffer the consequences of their actions. Proverbs 13:24 says, “The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
Now if a real man has well-behaved kids, then that means two things. First, you can’t leave discipline to Mom. Some dads like to have fun with the kids, but when it is time for discipline, they send the kids to their mother. No. It’s good for moms to be involved in discipline, too, but dads need to be involved in discipline. Dad’s need to be correcting, rebuking, and punishing, and spanking.
As well, if a real man has well-behaved kids, then that means you can’t be absent. You need to be a constant presence in their life. I’m not saying that you need to be a stay-at-home dad; no, you need to get out and provide for your family. But you can’t raise well-behaved kids if you’re working 80 hours a week, or if you’re gone six months out of the year. Some careers are great for single men; but when you get married, those same careers can lead to a very dysfunctional home life.
- Not arrogant.
Verse 7 gives us the third quality of a real man: Not arrogant. Arrogance is the same as pride. A real man is not prideful. What is pride? Pride is thinking that you are better than everybody else; thinking too highly of yourself.
Pride is extremely dangerous for men. Pride is the reason some men don’t take the time to pray and read their Bibles – they don’t think they need it. Pride is the reason that some men don’t attend church very often – they don’t think they need church to be a good man. Pride is what destroys a man’s relationships. It’s what prevents a man from admitting his mistakes, and apologizing, and asking for forgiveness. Pride is what keeps some men from serving others. They think they are so important that everybody should be serving them. Pride is what leads some men to make really bad decisions. They think they are so smart that they fail to pick up a book or ask for advice.
This is why the Bible says in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.”
What’s the opposite of pride? Humility. To be a Christian is all about humility. Becoming a Christian is admitting you are a sinner, in need of a Savior. Prayer is admitting that you need help. Reading your Bible is admitting that you don’t know everything. Going to church is admitting that you can’t make it alone. Repentance is admitting you were wrong. Volunteering in church is admitting that the world doesn’t exist to serve you.
To be humble is essentially to see yourself the way God sees you. You are priceless, but without God you are hopeless. You are important, but no more important than anyone else. You are very talented, but your talents are a gift from God, and He gave them to you to serve Him and others.
The Bible says that the antidote to pride is to treat others as more important than you. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Other people aren’t more important than you, but by treating them that way, you can avoid pride.
- Not hot-tempered.
Now we’re into verse seven, where Paul lists five vices to avoid. Titus 1:7 says, “As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money.” So the next quality of a real man is not hot-tempered. A real man doesn’t have a bad temper, or a short fuse. A real man has control over his anger. He is slow to anger. He has a long fuse. It takes a lot to get him angry. James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” In this way, a real man is to imitate God. Numbers 14:18 says, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion.”
What’s the key to overcoming a quick temper? The key is to be patient with people. What does it mean to be patient with people? It means to bear with them. Look at Colossians 3:12-13. “12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.” So this verse elaborates on what it means to be patient with people. It means to bear with them. What does that mean? The New Living Translation explains it. “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.” Do you know what it means to make allowance for each other’s faults? It means to give people permission to fail; permission to be imperfect; permission to offend; permission to slip up; permission to fall short. A short-tempered man makes everybody walk on eggshells, and if you slip up, then they will let you have it. A short-tempered person expects perfection out of people, and when you mess up just once, they will explode on you. A short-tempered person takes offense at everything; it’s very easy to offend them; you better be careful about what you say, and how you say it, because it’s easy to ruffle their feathers, and when you do, they will lose it. And by the way, a short-tempered person doesn’t also express their anger with shouting; sometimes they just never speak to you again. They stonewall you, or give you the cold shoulder. To overcome a bad temper you need to be patient with people, which means you to bear with people; you need to make allowance for their faults; to give them permission to be imperfect. Don’t be so sensitive. Don’t expect everyone around you to walk on water. That’s a real man. A real man is one who can control his temper. This is what you have to do in marriage. If I lost my temper every time my wife didn’t meet up to my expectations, or every time she did something that annoyed me, then we would no longer be married!
A real man is gentle. Gentleness means to stay calm and kind, even when you are angry. A real man gets angry just like everybody else, but he stays calm and kind, even when he is angry.
- Not an excessive drinker.
The next quality in Titus 1:7 is “not an excessive drinker.” In other words a real man is sober. He doesn’t get drunk or get high. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit.” It is very common in our day to get drunk. A real man doesn’t do that. He is not an excessive drinker.
A real man wants to always be ready for temptation. You can’t do that if you are drunk or high. A real man wants to always be ready for to protect his family. You can’t do that if you are drunk or high. A real man wants to always be ready to hear God’s voice. You can’t do that if you are drunk or high. A real man wants to always be ready to serve those in need. You can’t do that if you are drunk or high. A real man wants to always be a good example for others. You can’t do that if you are drunk or high. A real man wants to do everything to the glory of God. You can’t do that if you are drunk or high. And so a real man is sober.
- Not a bully.
Next, a real man is not a bully. Look at Titus 1:7. “As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully….” What does it mean by a bully? In Greek it literally means a striker, or one apt to strike. It’s a violent person. It’s a person who hits people, or threatens to hit people.
This is very common in our time. Many men and women express their anger by actually hitting you. If you offend them, they won’t just shout at you, they will physically harm you. There are many people that have decided that violence is justified if you say the wrong thing to them. If you say that homosexuality is a sin, you might get hit. If you say that abortion is murder, you might get hit. If you call some a nigger, or talk about someone’s mama, you might get hit. If you call someone a liar, or a coward, you might get hit. That’s not the mark of a real man. That’s the mark of immaturity.
I remember when I was in kindergarten, I hit a girl in school. And that evening my dad sat me down and he said, “Andy, don’t ever hit a girl again. I’m not going to punish you this time, but if you ever hit a girl again, I’m going to spank you.” And I never hit a girl again after that. Real men don’t hit girls. Only little boys who haven’t been raised right hit girls.
But real men also don’t hit other men. Real men are not violent. Don’t get me wrong. In the face of violence, a real man will defend himself and others. But a real man doesn’t resort to violence just because some jerk is saying mean and offensive things.
This is what I teach my sons. I teach my sons that as men, God gave them bigger muscles than girls. But the reason God gave them big muscles is not to hurt, but to help and protect. That’s a real man. You don’t hurt others, even though you have the power to so. Instead, you use your physical strength to help and protect others.
- Not greedy for money.
The last vice in verse 7 is “not greedy for money.” A real man is not greedy for money. The word here literally means “fond of” money. A real man is not fond of money. He is not a lover of money. Money is not evil; it’s just a tool. But the love of money is evil. A real man uses money to love God and love others. A bad uses God and people to love money.
Paul spoke a lot about the dangers of greed, or the love of money. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” A real man doesn’t long to get rich. He works hard. He is wise with his money. He is a good provider for his family. But he doesn’t long to get rich. Getting rich is not a godly goal.
A greedy man, a man who loves money and who longs to get rich ends of sacrificing everything for money. He will take a better paying job even if his wife is adamantly against it. He will take a better paying job across the country, even if it means uprooting his wife and children from the family, and friends, and church. He will take a better paying job even if it means that he will no longer have time for church. Not only that, but a man who loves money is willing to disobey God for financial gain; he is willing to lie, and cheat, and disobey God with his tithes and offerings.
That’s not a real man. A real man is not greedy for money. A real man doesn’t try to find happiness in buying things. His happiness is in doing God’s will. A real man doesn’t measure his self-worth by his net worth. He measures His self-worthy in his relationship with God. A real man doesn’t try to keep up with the Jones’s. His focus is on pleasing the Lord.
- Hospitable, loving what is good.
Now we’re into verse 8, which mentions five virtues. “But hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled.”
The first is that a real man is hospitable, loving what is good. The word hospitable literally means a lover of strangers. In that day and age there were many Christians who were traveling from town to town, fleeing persecution. They were religious refugees. And so in that time there was a great need for Christians to open up their homes and to welcome Christian refugees who were passing through town. They would need temporary shelter, and food, and water. Paul said that a real man is hospitable. In other words, a real man helps those in need; he is kind to the needy. Another way of putting it is that a real man sees his stuff as God’s, and he uses it to serve God and others. My house is God’s, and I’m going to use it for him. My car, my money, my stuff is God’s and I’m going to use it to serve Him and others.
And then the next phrase goes with the word hospitable: “Loving what is good.” A real mean is hospitable, loving what is good. In other words, a real man is a lover of good deeds. A real man is one who enjoys helping people in need. He is always looking for ways to lend a helping hand.
Job was a great example of this. He said in Job 29:12-14, “12 For I rescued the poor who cried out for help, and the fatherless child who had no one to support him. 13 The dying blessed me, and I made the widow’s heart rejoice. 14 I clothed myself in righteousness, and it enveloped me; my just decisions were like a robe and a turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy, and I examined the case of the stranger. 17 I shattered the fangs of the unjust and snatched the prey from his teeth.”
The next virtue in verse 8 is sensible. A real man is sensible. He has a sound mind, or sound judgment. In other words, he makes wise decisions. A real man makes wise decisions.
How does a real man make decisions? First, he does not blindly follow the crowd. He is not a victim of the herd syndrome, just following the herd. He doesn’t just do what’s normal, or what everyone else is doing. He is obedient to Romans 12:2. “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Second, he bases his decisions on the word of God. He asks, “What does God’s word say to do and not to do?” Third, be bases his decisions on what is wise. He doesn’t just ask, “Is this a sin? Is this illegal? He asks, “Is this wise?” Fourth, he bases his decisions on God’s priorities for his life. God has four priorities for every man: Spiritual (relationship with God); Spouse (relationship with wife); Seed (relationship with children); and Self (relationship with self, or self-care). And fifth, he bases his decisions on the future. A real man is forward thinking. He is thinking about where he wants to be, and where he wants his family to be five, ten, twenty years down the road, and what he needs to do to get there. In fact, a real man is thinking about where he wants his family to be in eternity.
As a result, a real man makes really good decisions with his time, his money, his health, and his relationships. When you look at his life, you see a well-ordered, well-balanced, well-managed life – in every arena.
The next virtue in verse 8 is righteous. A real man is righteous. This one is easy to explain. This means that a real man is obedient to God’s will. He lives according to God’s right way of living.
This means a real man’s priority is righteousness, not comfort, not financial gain, not professional advancement. Matthew 6:33. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
This means that when a real man reads the Bible or hears a sermon and is confronted with the reality that an area of his life is unrighteous, or outside of God’s will, then he repents.
A real man wants righteousness more than anything else. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The words for hunger and thirst in this verse are not the normal words for hunger and thirst. It’s talking a starving to death, or thirsting to death. New Testament translator William Barclay writes, “The hunger which this beatitude describes is no genteel hunger which could be satisfied with a mid-morning snack; the thirst of which it speaks is no thirst which could be slaked with a cup of coffee or iced drink. It is the hunger of the man who is starving for food, and the thirst of a man who will die unless he drinks.” In other words this hunger and thirst is the feeling that you cannot live without something. A real man feels that way about righteousness. More than anything else he wants to bring every area of his life – his mind, his body, his words, his finances, his career, his relationships – into conformity with God’s will.
The next virtue in verse 8 is holy. This is not the normal word for holy, hagios, which is used 233 times in the NT. Hagios means morally blameless. This word is only used eight times. It’s the word hosios, and it means devout, or devoted to God. That’s exactly how the NLT translates this word: devout. A real man is not merely morally upright; he is devoted God. You don’t have to be a Christian to be morally upright. But a real man is not just righteous, he is devoted to God.
A real man takes the Great Commandment seriously. Matthew 22:37 says that the greatest command of all is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” In other words, real men love Jesus. Real men prioritize their relationship with God. To a real man, God comes first.
A real man is fully-devoted to Jesus Christ. He goes to church every week, not once a month. He has a daily quiet time in which he spends time alone with God, praying, and reading the Bible. A real man is involved in church – he tithes, and volunteers, and supports the pastor. A real man brings his family to church, and leads his family to love God. He teaches his kids at home to love Jesus. A real man is not ashamed to sing to Jesus, and to lift his hands in praise to Jesus. A real man tries to lead his family and friends and coworkers to Christ.
The last virtue in verse 8 is self-controlled. A real man is self-controlled. This word means that he has lordship, or dominion over himself. He has achieved self-mastery.
Do you know why children need parents? Because they don’t know what is right and wise, and when they do know, they don’t have the self-control, or the willpower to do what is right and wise. And so God gives children parents to make sure they don’t stay up all night, and to make sure that they don’t eat all day, and to make sure that they wake up on time, and to make sure that they do their homework, and to make sure that they take a bath, etc. The goal of parenthood is to help them develop the knowledge of what is right and good, and the self-control to make themselves do what is right and good.
Unfortunately there are many men who haven’t learned self-control. They are slaves to their appetites, and desires, and feelings, and emotions. Even though know the right and wise thing to do, they can’t seem to make themselves do it. They know they need to eat right, but they just can’t do it. They know they need to exercise, but they just can’t do it. They know they need to wake up early to have a quiet time, but they just can’t do it. They have no self-control. They do what feels good, rather than what is good.
But real men have self-control. They have self-mastery. They are not ruled by their passions, desires, feelings, and emotions. They are ruled by wisdom, but reason, by God’s word, and by the Holy Spirit. They are able to do what is right and wise, even though they don’t feel like it.
Real men are able to spend within their means – to stay within budget; real men are able to save up money and pay cash rather than put everything on the card. Real men are able to wake up early to have a quiet time. Real men are able to exercise on a regular basis. Real men are able to eat healthy. Real men are able to conquer sinful and unhealthy habits.
- Holding to the faithful message.
And then verse 9 has one more quality of a real man. It says, “Holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.”
A real man has a high view of Scripture. He holds to the faithful message. A real man is a man of God’s word. He is a man of the Book. He believes that the Bible is God’s word – inspired and inerrant. He reads the word. He studies the word. He meditates on the word. He memorizes the word. He believes the word. And as a result he is able to teach and refute (or convince) others with the word. He shares the word with others. He teaches the word to his children. He talks about the word with his wife. And listens diligently to the word when it is taught.
A real man believe 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
And so what we have here are 13 qualities of a real man. This is real manhood. Don’t let the world tell you what a real man is. Get your definition of manhood from the Bible. God created man, and He knows what manhood is all about. And if you will devote yourself to His word, to these qualities, then you will be, and can be, a real man. A man that pleases God; and a man that makes your wife and children proud.