Matt. 15:8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
Matt. 15:9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
When I think of honor I personally can’t help but immediately think of the Marines. I am eternally grateful and will forever declare my gratitude to the men and women who join any of our military forces willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we as Americans can live as a free nation. But the reason I think of the Marines is that I have often thought if I would have never gotten into bull riding at a young age and consumed with that, I would have liked to be a Marine. I have had times I have told my wife, “I think I should go join the Marines and become a Chaplin and get to fulfill two of my dreams”, then she reminds me I am too old and they wouldn’t take me.
I do have to admit at this point in my life it is just a dream for I know I am fulfilling my calling as a pastor where God called me. But another reason I have such a high respect for them is that I have gotten to know some Marines in my church and out of my church. One of those happens to be my Pastor, Dr. Mark T. Barclay. I have talked to him several times about what it was like when he served in the Marines and fulfilled two tours of duty in Vietnam. One thing I believe is that the body of Christ could learn a lot about honor when it comes to our God. God deserves above everything and everyone else in my life, honor. I want to share with you the Marine Corps’ five keys to defining honor, and I believe it will bless you to see these same truths in relationship to honoring our God.
The motto of the Marine Corps, "Semper Fidelis," is Latin for "Always Faithful." "It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what," says Marines.com.
To begin with this is a very familiar statement that is shared between fellow Marines. As stated it means, “Always Faithful”. This is one of the first things we should think about when we think of honoring God. One who is faithful to God is someone who does more than just give lip service to God as our foundation text talks about. It is easy for people to say they will be faithful for instance in relationships, serving God, etc., but how many actually do remain faithful? The key is where honor come from. Honor comes from the heart. Ones words don’t prove they are honoring God, but ones actions of being faithful to God do. Realize that we all face challenges and battles, but God’s Word declares He is faithful to perform what He has promised. The key is will we remain faithful too God even when times get tough.
Aren’t you glad the Marines don’t bail on our country when times get tough. I have seen to many casualties of war in the body of Christ and it pains my heart to see people who were once claiming to be one who honors God with their life, but when things got tough, didn’t go their way, or they didn’t get what they wanted, they have fallen by the wayside. Honor is a great strength in life that will get you through the tough times. I have wanted in years past to abandon by post as a Pastor, but my love for my Savior and for His people, and my honor in my heart for Him would not let me. I love a saying I have heard my Pastor say many times to ministers and believers. “Thank God you did not quit”. Marines don’t quit.
The first of the Corps' three Core Values, honor, requires Marines to have personal integrity, to be accountable for their actions and to hold others accountable for theirs.
This too is a core value in honoring God and one that unfortunately is not fulfilled often enough but should be more and more. As verse 9 above states that in vain people worship God, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. There are way to many teachings in churches that give God a lot of credit for things God never did. These teachings keep man from taking accountability in our life. As humans we want to always put the blame or responsibility off on someone else just as Adam did from the beginning of the fall. He actually blamed God for the woman He had given him. Yet Galatians 6:7-8 is very clear. Do not be deceived for God is not mocked. Whatever we sow we will reap. If we sow to the flesh we reap corruption. If we sow to the Spirit we reap life. We must become accountable for our actions to honor our God. He wants to help us, but we need to make sure we are seeing things through the truth of scripture, not man-made doctrine.
The second Core Value, courage, is defined as honor in action. Marines are expected to do what is right, regardless of personal risk.
This should be another obvious sign of honor in relationship to our God. We should do what is right when no one else is looking or around, not because we have to, but because it is the right thing to do. Doing what is right is always the right thing to do. If you deal with a stronghold in your life realize there is help in God and He knows if you have sin or sin has you. But when we have the ability to do what is right and we choose not too, this is not honoring to our God. As Psalm 15:4 states for example that a person of honor is one who swears to their own hurt and they do not change. They don’t claim to be something they are not and you can take them at their word.
The Marines' third Core Value, commitment, means absolute dedication to the Corps and to the United States of America. Marines are expected to keep going until the last.
What a powerful statement about how our Marines honor our country. We should follow in this example with an absolute commitment to our Savior Jesus Christ, and to other believers. Scripture tells us in Matthew 14:26 that if we don’t love Jesus more than anyone else we cannot be His disciples. Love is the greatest form of commitment we can give to our God, and to the body of Christ as well as others. For scripture reveals there is no greater love than laying down your life for your friends, and Jesus should be our friend. We are also to love one another as He has loved us, speaking the truth in love.
The Rifleman's Creed
Unlike the other services, the Marines have a tradition of "every Marine a rifleman," whether their job is with the line infantry or a support unit. The Rifleman's Creed, which states the absolute importance of a Marine's rifle and of their skill with it, is the verbal affirmation of that tradition.
In fulfilling their mission one of the key elements for the Marines is to know how to use a rifle as a major part of their weaponry. This weapon helps them to fulfill their assignment wherever they are sent. We too should know our weapons and how to use them which is a part of fulfilling the call of God on their life. In Ephesians 4:1 we are told to walk worthy of our calling, and later on in verse 12 we are told that calling is to go and do the work of ministry, reconciling people to God. We are the hope of the world. When you go out to do ministry it is warfare and is not always easy, but it is a fulfilling thing to know you are honoring your God in helping others to receive from Him what He has freely given you.
So where does honor come from? Is it something that some have and others do not? I believe honor is something that is developed within one’s heart and anyone can develop honor. Again quoting my Pastor, “If honor is in you, honor will come out of you”. But scripture as it does for every part of our life has something to tell us about how we develop this honor. So let’s take a look at what we can do to further develop an honor for our God.
Prov. 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.
Here we have a very insightful verse on honor. Before honor comes humility. So if we will become what scripture teaches humility is, we can learn to develop this powerful attribute that can truly strengthen us and propel us through the tough challenges that life presents. Just like the Marines, we can press through. Just a side note about the Marines as well, they are actually the smallest of all the Military branches, but considered by most to be the toughest of our Military as a whole. I certainly mean no disrespect to any other branch of our Military, but this is what is documented in many articles about the Marines. So even though we as Christians may seem like we are the minority at times in the earth, always remember in Christ we are the toughest fighting force on the earth.
James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
True humility is a powerful subject. God gives more grace (heavens help) to the humble. I did a teaching a while back called “Pride, The Two-Sided Coin”. Pride is obviously the opposite of humility, and God resists the proud. Most only see pride as arrogance, one who is haughty or puffed up. But that is only one side of the coin. Anyone who sees themselves less than whom God says they are happens to be living in pride. True humility is seeing ourselves no higher nor lower than whom God made us to be.
When we choose to serve God the way we want to instead of the way He said too, we are in pride, seeing ourselves as more than who God said we are. But if we are putting ourselves down and living with low self-esteem because we haven’t learned who are in Christ, we are living in just as much pride. The more humble we become, the more we will honor our God.
We can learn a lot from the Marines, and many other such branches of our military. From what I have learned from the Marines I know they say they learned this from the Bible. God is a God of honor and worthy of our honor. Honor is a powerful force in a believer’s life that will propel us through anything we may face. If you doubt that just go back and read these five different values of how our Marines are taught honor.
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May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker