Men of Honor

So how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? How about the resolution to make no resolutions? Have you resolved to do anything this year? Yeah, I’ve failed too.

Everyone fails. That’s why self-help books are still so popular even though everyone makes fun of their trite, usually shallow advice and diagnoses. We fail and we don’t like it so we try to remedy it. But our unused exercise bikes we all try to sell (and occasionally buy) at our annual yard sale speaks volumes. As do the multiple bread makers, mixers, scrapbook material piles, unread books, and unused wine making kits in our basements along with the workout videos still in the cellophane. We all fail. But these failures are surface failures. No one would likely say that we’ve morally failed by failing in these things. These failures aren’t character failures. No one is less a man because he fails to get a perfect shave or a perfect shape.

But some failures are character failures. Character is that thing that make us do right by others and by ourselves. Before men we can have a good character. We can, for the most part, keep our hands from thievery and our tongues from gross lies and gossip. We can, for the most part, operate within the accepted bounds of our local societies so that we don’t transgress the mores laid down by common consent. But when it comes to our character before God, this good character before men is like putting makeup on a corpse in an effort to make it look like they’re only asleep when in truth they are dead. At its heart, hypocrisy is thinking that our character before men suffices for our character before God.

Before God our character is damaged. That’s too weak a word, but it suffices. For us it is damaged beyond repair. There’s no self-help book that can give the dead the will to live. No motivational speaker can rouse the dead to do the deeds of the living. No amount of posthumous make-up can make give the dead the warmth of the living. And no one can improve his character before God. No one can do good. No one is righteous. Our character is damaged. Our honor is lost. We must be given a new character. This is why Jesus came; to give us a new character before God.

The Son of Mary came to give us back our honor.

Honor is a man’s character in action. Honor does what character dictates. So a dishonorable man has a flawed and wicked character. An honorable man is one of good character. Jesus is a man of honor. He does what is in His character to do. He doesn’t lie because it is not in His character to lie. He doesn’t cheat, gossip, or hold grudges because it is not in His character to do so. He obeys His Father perfectly because His character is to be obedient, even to the point of death on the cross. Jesus is the man of honor. And He gives us His Spirit that we, too, would be men of honor.

Men of honor do what is right because it is right. Their motivations are pure. They do not do things for selfish gain or ever for honor’s sake, as if honor needs to be honored. No, men of honor do things for the sake of others. They do good for the benefit of others. They refrain from evil for the benefit of others. Not just so others won’t be hurt by their evil, but so others will be helped in witnessing restraint and honor. Men of honor live for others. Now we can argue about what is right and wrong, what is honorable and dishonorable in action. We can muse over what an honorable man ought do and what he ought not do. But that’s at best a shallow argument that doesn’t help guide us. It only placates our guilt of not being men of honor but having occasionally done right by God and man. Better to pinpoint the heart of honor so that we have a guide when the waters are dark and the sky is red.

At the center of honor is a clean conscience.

A man of honor is one who fights to keep his conscience clean before God, just as an honorable son does what he does to please his father. so St. Peter writes that Baptism saves us by an appeal to God for a clean conscience by the power of the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 3). And St. Paul says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14-15). If your conscience is clean before God then who is there to condemn you?

And when you have dishonored yourself before God, when your heart condemns you, do not seek to restore honor before men for men are like the grass of the field, here today and gone tomorrow. Rather, repent before God and by the resurrection of Jesus be absolved. There is no shame in this. Shame is the opposite of honor and it is honorable to confess our sins because God has said we are sinners. It is honorable to seek absolution because Jesus has said He came to save the lost and to forgive sinners. It is honorable to live in the forgiveness of sins, by daily contrition and repentance drown the old Adam in us that the new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Let us be men of honor and stand before the Father in the obedience of Jesus. Let us love our wives, teach our children the ways of God in the person of Christ. Let us do good to all and seek peace and pursue it. Let us forgive as we have been forgiven and give as it has been given to us. Not because by these we regain our honor before God or man, but because for the sake of Christ our honor is restored and we are called the sons of God, brothers of Christ; men of honor.

About Pastor Mark Lovett

Pastor Lovett is the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Hoisington, KS, where he lives with his wife, Kristi, and three children, Joshua (9), Sarah (4), and Kristopher (2). Pr. Lovett graduated from CTS in Dec. 2006. He received BA in philosophy from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, and served four years in the United States Navy.

Comments

Men of Honor — 4 Comments

  1. FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 1947

    Our Father, we yearn for a better understanding of spiritual
    things, that we may know surely what Thy will is for us and for
    our Nation.
    Give to us clear vision ihat we may know where to
    stand and what to stand for

    —because unless we stand for something ,
    we shall fall for anything.

    Remind us, O God, that Thou hast not resigned. Harassed and
    troubled by the difficulties and uncertainties of the hour, we rest
    our minds on Thee, who dost not change. May it ever be in our
    minds as upon our coins that in God we trust. For Jesus’ sake.

    Amen.

    Hon. Arthur H. Vandenberg

    UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN

    Rev. Peter Marshall was Chaplain of the Senate for 2 years while
    I presided as President pro tempore in the absence of a Vice President.
    Thus it was my daily privilege to greet him each noon when
    the Senate convened and to present him to my colleagues for his
    daily prayer. This duty swiftly became a precious privilege for me
    and this routine quickly became an inspiration. My Chaplain became
    my intimate and priceless friend.

    Dr. Marshall was a rugged Christian with dynamic faith. He
    was an eloquent and relentless crusader for righteousness in the
    lives of men and nations. He always spoke with courage, with
    deepest human understanding, and with stimulating hope. To
    know him was to love him. His sudden and untimely death was a
    loss of major magnitude to countless friends in whose hearts his
    memory will long and vividly survive.

    I count it a rare privilege to be permitted this foreword to a
    reprint of his Senate prayers.

  2. “ We shall soon have to handle truth, not with kid gloves, but with gauntlets, – the gauntlets of holy courage and integrity. Go on, ye warriors of the cross, for the King is at the head of you. ”

    Charles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892)

  3. Further, I charge it on the professors of popular Christianity that they have no valour in the fight for truth and for God.

    They hold not fast the faith once delivered to the saints,
    but surrender first one point and then another of God’s revelation to any sceptical heathen who may see fit to attack it.

    They bid God speed alike to all professed prophets and creeds, simply because it is a matter of indifference with them whether truth or error shall prevail;

    in fact, they are most tolerant of false teachers because they propound the easiest doctrine, often patronising the most monstrous contradictions and shameless caricatures of the gospel.

    There can be no doubt that millions of souls are being sacrificed to the godless, senseless antinomian gospels of the present day, gospels which have been hacked and hewed worse than any poor vivisected animal. The very standards and landmarks of goodness, truth, honesty, chastity, and godliness are broken down, and the people are taught that they have nothing to do, to sacrifice, or to suffer, in order to be saved and to get into heaven; in fact, that they can get there as easily by the broad road as by the narrow way;

    and all who preach the truth as Christ preached it are stigmatized as legal–as workmongers, as antichrists and papists.

    http://www.gospeltruth.net/booth/cath_booth/popular_christianity/cbooth_pop_ch_lec4.htm

    Luther’s Morning Prayer

    Luther, who, however, had merely stated that faith is never alone, though it alone
    justifies. His axiom was:

    “Faith alone justifies, but it is not alone–

    _Fides sola iustificat, sed non est sola._”

    According to Luther good works, wherever they are found, are present in virtue of faith;
    where they are not present, they are absent because faith is lacking;
    nor can they preserve the faith by which alone they are produced.

    Introductions to the SymbolicalBooks of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, by Friedrich Bente

    “Blood alone moves the wheels of history”
    Martin Luther
    IXOYC

  4. Peggy Pedersen

    Interesting that hardly anybody talks of honour any more. Oh, people still want to be honoured by others, but not for their honourable character but rather for beauty, cleverness, power, etc. This is why young men are floundering wondering what it means to be a man, because character has been divorced from respect.

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