When I think about what it truly means to be a Christ-like man, three words quickly come to mind: “Leave her alone.” Jesus spoke these profound words while rebuking a group of men for harassing Mary as she perfumed His feet.
Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, appears in the Gospels on three separate occasions. And each time, we meet her at the feet of Jesus. We first see Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teachings. Next, we see her falling at Jesus’ feet, weeping over the death of her brother, Lazarus. And we last find Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume the day before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
As Mary tenderly practiced her fragrant act of devotion, a nearby group of men began to ridicule her, scorning her actions. The men insulted Mary’s service, heaping shame on this humble woman and showing contempt for her worship.
Christ’s reaction was beautiful and powerful. He certainly didn’t join in the slander but He also didn’t passively stand aside. He stepped in. He intervened. He protected. He shaded Mary and supported her. He fended off her mockers and championed her value. He spoke boldly to the group of men, “Leave her alone.”
This is what a godly man does. He doesn’t join in. He doesn’t stand by disinterestedly. He steps in.
When Men Need to Step In
Men can learn a great deal from Christ’s example. Men have a propensity to join in when women are being mocked or exploited. Men tend to stand by and not “rock the boat” when those around us are engaged in offensive language or actions. But godly men must intercede when an opportunity arises to exercise our God-given charge to care for others.
When a man’s wife is in danger, when her value is insulted, when she is belittled, whether it’s by a friend, a neighbor or one of her own children, a godly man must not join in. He must not stand by. His duty is to step in and say, “Leave her alone.”
When other men are discussing a woman behind her back, whether to insult her lack of appeal or to drool over her allure in lustful fantasy, a godly man does not join in the indecency. Nor does he stand by and allow the sin to thrive. He is charged to step in and say, “Leave her alone.”
When a man is tempted to exploit women by engaging in pornography, viewing leaked private photographs of celebrities or objectifying the women he knows, a godly man must not join in the misuse of women and multiply their shame and harm. Nor should he stand by while others relish in these perversions. He must safeguard the woman’s dignity, his mind, his marriage and his household by stepping in and telling himself, as much as others, “Leave her alone.”
When a woman—even a stranger—is being abused by someone physically, verbally or emotionally, a godly man cannot join in. Nor can he stand by when he has the power to intervene with words or actions. Wherever he is able, he must step in and fight for peace, to stand between the woman and her abuser and declare, “Leave her alone.”
When the bride of Christ, His church, is ridiculed, attacked or infiltrated, godly men must not join in the opposition. Nor may they stand by while the enemy assails the people of God. Our command is to lovingly guard and defend her, to stand firm and declare to the enemy in the name of Christ, “Leave her alone.”