What Is a Good Man?

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:8

Most of the people God used to build His kingdom and spread His message were flawed, imperfect, and constantly failing individuals.

Thomas was a doubter. 

Peter was a liar.

David was an adulterer. 

John the Baptist was crazy. 

Paul was a murderer.

And through this, through their stories of imperfectly following God, I discovered good men aren’t perfect men. Being a good man isn’t the absence of failing; instead, it’s the determination to decide, and keep on deciding, to get up and continue on. 

For a long time, I’ve wrestled with this notion of what a good man is and how I can become one. Eventually, when it was evident the modern world didn’t have the answers, I turned to the Creator of men to see if maybe there, in His words, I could find a more satisfying and complete picture of who I was trying so hard to become. I went through history and looked at the men who made a positive difference in the world, and I looked at the men in my own life who I considered to be good men. Then I began piecing together a new image of what a good man might truly be.

What I found in my search was a whole new image of what this man looks like. 

Each man I looked at—whether from the Bible, history, or my own life—was very human. He struggled and failed. He had broken places in his heart and mind. Some were physically weak, and others fought addictions and moral failures. They didn’t look alike; some had beards and low voices, some were clean shaven (crazy, I know), and some couldn’t speak at all.

So often in Scripture I found that what makes a man is not his outward appearance but his inward heart position. His desire and dedication to pursue (even imperfectly) attributes that mimic God Himself, including unconditional love, generosity, wisdom, forgiveness, the list goes on. God says in the Old Testament, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

If God sees within you a pure heart, you do not need anything more for Him to choose you to do His work.

This more elusive but authentic image of a good man is a far cry from the destructive and often toxic image of the “modern man” we have come to know. But that image is one we ought to leave behind in order to take up a new one—a better, truer one.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God Micah 6:8

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