The Lord has sought out a man after His own heart. . . (1 Samuel 13:14).
I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do (Acts 13:22).
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
The previous five Catholic Man Channel articles provided insights into what does it mean to be a real man and what does it mean to be a holy man. This article addresses what it means to be a man of God. I believe that above all it means being a man after God’s heart. One thing it doesn’t mean is that we have to be perfect. The Scriptures call David a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22), and yet he was far from perfect- even having a man killed to hide his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. Of course, David only foreshadowed the perfect man after the heart of God, Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. As Catholic men, we too are called to be men of God, men after the heart of God.
It Starts with God the Father: As incredible as it may sound, the Creator of all things, our Heavenly Father, wants us to know his heart and wants to give us the grace to be “a man after his own heart.” He who is all-knowing and all-loving invites us, who have limited knowledge and who find it hard to love and forgive, to come to know his mind and heart and share his way of looking at the world. He wants us to seek to understand his love, mercy, wisdom, and justice and then give it to others, starting with our family. He wants us to understand that following his ways opens us up to his blessings and a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). He wants to teach us to hear his voice so that we may learn what is important to him, may value what he values, and may choose to obey his words.
Jesus, of course, is the model, par excellence, of a man after God’s heart. His most outstanding characteristic was his constant desire to do the Father’s will. We don’t know how good a carpenter or businessman he was. We don’t have any indication he was the most learned of Jews or the most politically astute. Jesus’ perfection rested in his preferential love for God and the things of God, and his desire to be pleasing to his Father. Listen to Jesus’ words as a man after God’s heart.
Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5:19-20).
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him” (John 8:28-29).
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say (John 12:49-50).
. . . but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me (John 14:31).
What About Us? When we hear these words of Jesus, how easy it is to think, ”Jesus is the divine son of God. It was easy for him to have a heart after the things of God, his Father. He was sinless; I am a sinner. He was perfect as a man; I am imperfect.” Yes, Jesus knows the imperfections, as well as the longings of each of our hearts. He knows our past sins and failures. Nevertheless, he invites us to join him as a man after God’s heart. When we are baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection, we all receive the grace to say “yes” to God and “no” to sin and temptation. We all have the God-given strength to resist the devil, who tries to deceive us into forgetting who we are in Christ. Jesus calls us to leave our miserable failings behind and set out with him on a new life of freedom and peace as we seek after the things of God’s heart.
Many Scripture passages give us a glimpse into the heart of God, and the things that are important to him. When Jesus stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth, he read the following Scripture from the book of Isaiah (61:1-2) and went on to say that they were fulfilled in him.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore, he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).
In the book of Matthew, we hear these words of Jesus as he explains what will happen at his second coming:
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:34-36).
As it was for Jesus, so it is for us. Do you believe that as a man after God’s heart that you, too, are called to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are hurting and in prison, to feed and clothe the poor, and to comfort the lonely. Do you believe that you are called to be Christ’s presence in the world today, and that through your touch and your words, many brokenhearted people may be restored?
Do you believe you are called to be a faithful and loving husband and father, no matter what your circumstances may be? No excuses, No blame and shame game with you wife. You are willing to take responsibility in leading your family and showing them by your words and deeds what it means to be a man of God, a man after God’s heart.
Conclusion: In seeking to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, it is important to remember that he is after our hearts – not a list of human achievements. He knows our potential when we trust him and seek him with all our hearts. He knows that if we are set on loving him with all our hearts and repenting swiftly whenever we fall, our actions will naturally begin to reflect his Father’s heart. He knows also that this is not something we achieve by human strength alone, but by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us.
We come to know God’s heart also through reading his word in Scripture, through meeting him in the sacraments, through appreciating his creation, through serving others, and through spending time with him in prayer. Whenever we pray, we are putting ourselves in Jesus’ presence, and he is delighted to reveal his will and call for our lives, and give us the grace to carry it out. It is in prayer that we have the privilege of growing in a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus. When we seek him in this way, we can’t help but come in touch with the love in his heart and be transformed more and more into his image and likeness. We will then begin to long for what he longs for. We will begin to take him at his word and trust him in all things. We will grow in confidence that we can really be men after God’s heart, because Christ is in us.
So let’s always set our hearts and minds on Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-2) for ongoing healing, transformation, and illumination. Let’s keep trying to follow his Spirit’s promptings. In his great love, Jesus will transform our hearts so that we begin to do the things that most pleases his Father. Our Heavenly Father loves when we seek his will, rather than just our own way. As we keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, we will find ourselves asking for the things most important to God. We will find ourselves becoming more and more like Jesus, and we will truly become men after God’s heart.
Father, I ask for more of your Spirit and your grace, so I will seek after the things of your heart as Jesus did. I am so grateful that you have chosen to teach me your ways. Lord Jesus, I give my heart to you. Take it and make it like yours, so that I may be a man of God who brings your love and your Gospel to others.
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to use this daily meditation from the July issue of their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
Why do you believe God called David “a man after my own heart” in spite of all his imperfections?
What is your reaction to God’s call for you to be a man after his heart? Do you think this is even possible? Why or why not?
In what ways was Jesus the perfect model of a man after God’s heart?
Can you identify any obstacles in your life that can get in the way of your being a man after God’s heart?
Do you believe that being a man after God’s heart is more than just trying harder or doing good deeds? Why or why not? What is the difference between doing a good thing versus doing a Godly thing?
In our daily lives, what are some steps we can take that will help us to be men of God – to choose Godly things over non-Godly things?