When I was little, I adored Disney princesses (Belle was and still is my favorite). Like many young girls, I was fascinated by any classic love story, complete with Prince Charming and happily ever-afters. I would often dream of my one-day fairy-tale ending. Have you ever noticed how in most of these Disney movies (and some other modern romances), if there is a father in the story, he is presented as either “dumb,” “strict,” or “overprotective”? In the end, of course, he relents and the heroine of the story gets her way and lives happily ever after. This is just one example of how Hollywood has a worldly agenda that they are not ashamed to promote: the role of parents and the family (not to mention the Bible) is no longer important and you can do whatever makes you happy. As Christian women however, we don’t have to listen to the world’s advice. We have a wise and loving Father who knows what is best for us and has laid that out in His Word!
I’m sure that for those of us who are not married and have yet to find “Mr. Right,” we have all wondered things like, “What should I look for in a guy?” and “How do I know he’s ‘the one’?” We may even already have a set of standards for a future husband, but how easy is it to still get caught up in the idealistic world of romance? When emotions kick in, our standards tend to slip by the wayside. As daughters of the King, we must not only stick to our standards but allow Him to set them for us! We may have our ideals and preferences about certain guys, but ultimately, His Word must guide us in our choice of relationships.
When we dig into Scripture, we see that what God wants for His children is for them to grow more like Himself (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2:21). He knew His daughters would desire romance and relationship (He created us that way), so He has provided the principles to help us evaluate our current or potential relationships and find what He wants for us: a man like Him.
Timothy is one of the greatest examples we have in Scripture of a faithful Christ-follower. In 1 Timothy 6:11-12, Paul says,
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
First, we see that a man of God belongs to God (Galatians 3:26-27). He has submitted to Christ and has obeyed the gospel as the New Testament prescribes, which includes making “the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (cf. Matthew 10:32-33). Second, we see that a man of God primarily does three things: flee, follow, and fight. In these three actions, we get a glimpse of what a faithful Christian man will be doing in his life for the Lord.
What were “these things” from which Timothy was to flee?
- False teaching. In 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Paul warns against those who teach anything else other than the pure gospel of Christ and plainly says, “From such withdraw yourself.” Whether it is denominational teaching, worldly wisdom, or disbelief in God, a man of God knows how to “give an answer” to them (1 Peter 3:15), but refuses to allow himself to become entangled and deceived by them.
- Love of money. Paul keeps Timothy from getting caught up in temporary things by reminding him to focus on godliness and contentment rather than physical possessions and prestige (1 Timothy 6:6-10). He gets to the root of the problem: the love of money, which only brings greediness, discontentment, and many sorrows. A man of God earns money in order to provide for himself, his family, and to give to those in need, not for selfish gain (Ephesians 4:28). He is focused on things above, not on things of the earth (Colossians 3:1-2), and will keep himself from falling in love with the world (1 John 2:15-17).
- Pride. When giving the qualifications for elders, Paul points out that he must not be a novice (or a new convert- he must live as a “man of God” for quite some time), “lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Pride destroys our minds and our relationships, for anything that puts distance between us and God puts distance between us and other people. A man of God clothes himself with humility and always seeks the good of others before his own (1 Peter 5:5).
- Love of pleasure. In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul again commands Timothy to “Flee also youthful lusts…” Though God created us with certain desires, He wants us to use them in the perimeters He has provided rather than abusing them for our own purposes. A man of God is aware of this and seeks to practice self-control (1Thessalonians 4:3-7).
Paul gave Timothy specific qualities to “pursue” in 1 Timothy 6:11;
- Righteousness. A man of God knows that only the blood of Christ makes one righteous and seeks a righteous lifestyle (2 Corinthians 5:21; Psalm 106:3).
- Godliness. His main goal is to be more like God Himself, allowing Him to permeate every thought, attitude, word, and action (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
- Faith. A man of God will have faith, but he is never complacent. He will seek to grow in faith like great men of old (Romans 4:20-21; Hebrews 11).
- Love. He knows that without love, everything else is in vain (1 Corinthians 13:1; Mark 12:30-31). He desires to love the Lord and love others more each day as God has loved him (1 John 4:7-11).
- Patience. He does his best to endure hardship and continue to serve despite trials that come, looking ahead to the reward (James 5:7-11). He wants to be patient with others just as Christ is patient with him (2 Peter 3:9).
- Gentleness. This can also be described as meekness or strength brought under control (cf. Numbers 12:3; Matthew 11:28). A man of God also exemplifies meekness by having a cause bigger than himself and pursuing it before all else. He is gentle toward the weak and speaks the truth in love (Philippians 4:5; Ephesians 4:15).
How will he follow all these things?
- He must be mighty in Scripture. The qualities listed above are a growing process. They are the result of the Spirit living and working in a person as he walks in Christ (Galatians 5:16, 22-23). They are found in the Lord Himself and His Word, so a man of God seeks it daily (Acts 17:11; 18:24-25; 2 Timothy 2:15). Then, like Timothy, he will be “a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6).
- He must be mighty in prayer. A man of God knows that he cannot do the work of the Lord without His help. He seeks and values God’s presence before anyone else’s and believes in the strength and providence that ensues from time with Him (Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7).
- He must be mighty in service. “Man of God” is synonymous with “servant.” In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul gives a very similar list of qualities to pursue: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in apposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive to do his will.” Did you notice how the characteristics overlap with 1 Timothy 6:11-12? A man of God pursues these qualities in order to become a gentle, patient, and humble servant with the primary purpose of bringing others to the Truth! (Also compare Titus 2:6-8.)
A man of God “fights the good fight of faith”. He is engaged in the spiritual battle against sin (1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
- He knows who is in charge (2 Chronicles 20:12, 15; Romans 16:20).
- He knows the enemy: Satan (Ephesians 6:11-12; 2 Timothy 2:26).
- He knows and looks to the reward (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:8).
In order to fight in this good fight of faith, a man of God must seek His strength against temptation and discouragement (Isaiah 40:28-30; 1 Corinthians 16:13). 1 John 2:14 is one of my favorite passages summarizing the life of a man of God: “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.”
As we’ve seen, God has richly provided us with guidelines and key qualities to look for in a Christian young man. Though it may be easy to protest, “But I’ve never met a guy like that. Everyone will say that my standards are too high, and I will never find a good relationship.” Perhaps not, but wouldn’t you rather trust in God’s timing and find a faithful man than settle for less? We must remember that our standards are never too high when we set them according to God’s Word. His wisdom is greater than our feelings, and He is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). No perfect man exists, but men do exist who are striving to live for the Perfect One, Christ. A man of God will do his very best to flee sin and follow Jesus and will lead you to do the same.