Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas.
We all need heroes. Even the Apostle Paul said that we were to follow him and others as they follow Christ, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Phil. 3.17).
On the other hand he warned us, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15.33).
Who we hang out with, who we follow, who we choose as heroes, can have a profound effect on our lives. When we read the biographies of great men and women who have gone before us, we have an opportunity to see how they lived and to follow their example.
In Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxas writes about seven men who experienced struggles and faced challenges that would have crushed lesser men. These men and their stories—George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson—can encourage all of us to be strong in the face of opposition and live right in a world that has little or no standard.
What makes great men & what is the secret of their greatness?
What is biblical manhood and what makes men worthy examples? Metaxas’ book doesn’t just tell us, it shows us through the lives of these seven men. (I’ll talk about women who exemplify biblical womanhood in a future blog.)
Metaxas tells us first what it isn’t, here are several excerpts for the opening chapter:
The first false idea about manhood is the idea of being macho— of being a big shot and using strength to be domineering and to bully those who are weaker. Obviously this is not God’s idea of what a real man is. It’s someone who has not grown up emotionally, who might be a man on the outside, but who on the inside is simply an insecure and selfish boy.
The second false choice is to be emasculated— to essentially turn away from your masculinity and to pretend that there is no real difference between men and women. Your strength as a man has no purpose, so being strong isn’t even a good thing.
God’s idea of manhood is something else entirely. It has nothing to do with the two false ideas of either being macho or being emasculated. The Bible says that God made us in his image, male and female, and it celebrates masculinity and femininity. And it celebrates the differences between them. Those differences were God’s idea.
For one thing, the Bible says that men are generally stronger than women, and of course Saint Peter famously— or infamously— describes women as “the weaker sex.” But God’s idea of making men strong was so that they would use that strength to protect women and children and anyone else. There’s something heroic in that. Male strength is a gift from God, and like all gifts from God, it’s always and everywhere meant to be used to bless others. In Genesis 12:1–3, God tells Abraham that he will bless him so that Abraham can bless others. All blessings and every gift— and strength is a gift— are God’s gifts, to be used for his purposes, which means to bless others. So men are meant to use their strength to protect and bless those who are weaker. That can mean other men who need help or it can mean women and children. True strength is always strength given over to God’s purposes.
Metaxas goes on: Continue reading