The following is excerpted from the sermon “Men and Masculinity“, from the original 2001 Proverbs sermon series, as part of our look at biblical manhood here on the blog. In it, Pastor Mark discusses three specific aspects of a man’s identity–cultivator, warrior, andsage– as found in scripture.
MAN AS CULTIVATOR
A man is created to be a cultivator. God creates the earth and all of creation, which at that time, according to Genesis 2, is untamed, wild land. But there’s one part of creation that is tamed: the Garden of Eden. There are orderly trees and shrubs; it’s cultivated. And God puts the man, Adam, in that garden and he tells that man to fill the earth and subdue it, which is a lot of work. God tells him to be fruitful and increase in number and cultivate the whole earth. You will find that men, because they’re made in the image and likeness of God, are cultivators. They love to create something. And once something is made, they like to cultivate it and nurture it so that it continues to progress.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Some guys do this with their car. Even if the car is running fine, they have to take it apart. They put it together, it doesn’t go fast enough, so they take it apart and then make it go faster. That’s what guys do. Other guys are always working on the house, and running to Home Depot is like going to Mecca. Or maybe they’re into computers and electronics and are always updating their equipment. “It’s not big enough.” “It’s not fast enough.” “The speakers aren’t big enough. “We need to upgrade.” Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. That’s the chant of a man. Men do this because they’re cultivators. They want to build things. And once they’re built, they want them to improve and keep moving, keep going. In addition, they’re supposed to cultivate their wives – love, nurture, encourage, build – so that the woman becomes like Psalm 128 says, “a fruitful vine.” They’re supposed to cultivate children and give them wisdom and discipline, and pour into those kids, and see those kids progress. They’re supposed to pour into their business. They’re supposed to pour into their physical body. They’re supposed to pour into their home, into whatever it is that God has given them.The problem is, if a man doesn’t love God, he cultivates the wrong things. He cultivates sin. He nourishes and nurtures rebellion and death. Cultivation can be bad, like the creation of the tower of Babel. It could be good, like Noah building the ark out in the middle of the desert. When the man sins against God in the things he cultivates, God doesn’t just curse the man, he curses the ground under the man. What that means is, everything under the man’s dominion now starts to fight against him. Whatever it is you’re trying to cultivate, you will find that it always fights against you. A lot of guys say, “Well, pretty soon I’m going to have all my bills paid, and my car will be running, and my house will be done. Whew. I’ll be done.” And it never comes together. Humpty Dumpty always comes off the proverbial wall. You never get it all together. You never have enough money. You never have enough hours. You just can’t ever get on top of it. Why is that? Because God has cursed everything that’s under the man. Why did he do that? Because he loves the man.
God cursed his branches.
When the man is trying to subdue and harness everything under his dominion to do what he desires for it to do, and it all fights against him, it teaches him about God: The ground is doing to the man what the man does to the Lord. The man asks, “Why is this so hard? Why is everything fighting me? Why is it in rebellion?” And God says, “Because you’ve sinned, and you’re doing the same thing to me.” So the man starts to understand the gospel as he’s working. The more a man works and takes responsibility, and becomes a husband and a father, and buys a home, and runs a business, the more likely he is to make sense out of the gospel. Because he’ll feel what it’s like to have something rebel against you when you’re trying to bring order out of chaos.