“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15 (KJV)
It was my first encounter concerning killing goats. It was Christmas time, and we had traveled home. My uncle in the village raised goats, and so there were several goats in the backyard. This Christmas, however, we were to kill a goat for the family. I was used to killing chickens, but not goats. Therefore, when we brought the goat for the death penalty, my niece asked me to kill the goat.
Well, I had never been in such a position before and did not even know where to start; so, I declined. My niece then replied to me, “how can you say you are a man, and you do not know how to kill a goat?” Well, she ended up killing that goat by herself (with some help from us).
Nevertheless, here statement got me thinking… what is the true measure of a man? What does it take to be a man indeed? For her, a real man should be able to kill goats. But is that really the true measure of a man?
How Society Defines Being a Man?
In ancient African society, a real man was known for the size of his household and his farm. The number of wives he had, the number of children he had, the size of his farmland decided his measure in life. With the advent of the white man’s influence, things changed over time.
Men began to be measured by other kinds of attainment such as the number of lands and landed properties, number, and quality of cars possessed, how much is in the man’s bank account, etc. It is not only here in Africa, but in different parts of the world. Wherever societies are formed, there is always a standard by which men are measured. Every man labors to meet that standard, for until then, you cannot be called ‘a man’.
This was why the statement of Jesus to the disciples in the above passage is revolutionary. He declared to his disciples that in the kingdom of God, a man is not measured by how many ‘things’ he possesses. No matter what possessions those may be, the true measure of a man is not in his possessions. If we understand the statement of Jesus, then we will know why He is not bothered by the same questions that bother us.
I have heard some Christians wonder why the richest men in the world are unbelievers and all such questions. For them, it appears like a slap in the face of God that his children are not the richest in the world. But the Almighty is not part of the rat race we are into. He does not measure his men by how much they have; hence, he is not under any pressure to make them possess so many things so that he can boast about it. For the Lord, his standards are quite different from ours. Indeed he measures his men, but by a different standard.
How God Measures a Man?
Now, a question may arise in our hearts. So, what is the Lord’s measurement yardstick? How does the Lord rate his men since he does not use Forbes’ ratings? Well, I will not fall into the temptation of giving you some set of measures by which you must assess your life.
Instead, I will refer you to His word – the Bible. Let every godly man take up his Bible and read. Go through the New Testament, see what the Lord approves or disapproves of. See what he celebrates and what he disdains. He has not hidden his standards from us. He declares plainly to all who cares to know what looks for in his vessel.
Go to the letters Jesus wrote to the seven (7) churches in Asia Minor (Revelation chapters 2 and 3). See how he reversed human opinions in several of these churches. See how he called the poor churches rich and the rich churches poor- based on his own estimation.
Why do you need to hear the Lord on this matter? Because the world will give you their own standards. The world will put you under pressure – it is their stock in trade. If you do not take time before the Lord to decide the true measure of your life, the world will drive you into covetousness. They will give you an agenda to pursue that will take you away from the Lord and His will for your life.
Hence, everyone who cares must take heed of the words of the Lord and remember that:
“the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:17
Joshua Obodozie resides in Enugu, Nigeria, West Africa. He is a believer in Christ Jesus and in the authority of the Bible as the inerrant word of God. He is the chief editor of THE CHRISTIAN IN SOCIETY (www.thechristianinsociety.org) an online blog that reaches thousands of Nigerians and Africans with the word of God. He is also a Materials Engineer by profession.