What Defines A Man?

In early May, 2006, Lincoln Hall, well-known writer, adventurer and public speaker, had attained a height few achieve- the very highest point on Mt Everest. With his two Sherpa guides he began the descent and all went well until they reached the “dead zone”, an area especially deficient in oxygen. Suddenly he was struck with cerebral oedema, sometimes called high altitude sickness. He lost consciousness and could not be revived by the efficient and experienced guides. Finally, not getting a heart-beat, they radioed the base camp that he was dead and they were instructed to leave him since they also were becoming ill. The next day, Dan Mazur, an experienced climber on his way up to the summit with two clients who were to pay him $20,000 each for guiding them to the top, found him alive and sitting up on the trail! Other climbers had passed Hall by, refusing to stop and render aid. Mazur helped him, forfeiting the $40,000 fee, and carried him down where he could receive medical assistance.

Reporters asked Dan Mazur if he had thought about also passing the stricken man, since he would lose his fees. He replied, “No, the thought never entered my head. It’s situations like this that define a man.”

More striking than the fact than a man who seemed to be dead was resurrected is the great sacrifice made by Mazur. Indeed, there are times that define a man. There are times when his reaction to events and situations tell you what kind of person he really is. The men who refused to render aid proved that they lacked compassion and selflessness. Mazur proved that there are some who will make sacrifices to do the right thing.

When Paul used “man of God” he used a term that means more than just a “human belonging to God.” He used it in II Timothy 3:17 when he said “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” Paul is getting to the central thought when he says, “Watch ye, stand fast in faith; quit (behave) ye like men, be strong.” “Men” is not used to suggest gender, but to identify a quality and is applicable to female as well as male. In I Peter 1:5 the virtue we are to add to our faith is described in the lexicon as “manliness or moral courage.” In other words the ability of saying “no” when that is what pleases God and “yes” when that is the appropriate response. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego used this quality when they said, “Our god is able to deliver us; but if not, O king, we will not serve thy gods or bow down before the golden image you have set up.” Daniel 3:17.

They had come to one of those moments that define a man. And God liked what their action said about them. We all face such moments daily and by our response we define what kind of person we are. It isn’t only what we say in defining ourselves it’s the record we leave by what we do in those situations that defines us. And, it doesn’t have to be on a snow-covered mountain. It could be on a city street.

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