Sunday, February 28, 2010

The 7 Points of Valor: #3 - Chivalry

Philippians 2:3-4 “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Luke 10:29-37 “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Matthew 20:26-28 “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Team Hoyt: As we watch the video again I remind you of the first 2 Points of Valor. The first was honour, which we identify as integrity. The challenge is to not just know the right stuff, but to apply it. Integrity of words and life are the foundation of our testimony, our witness. If people around us are to see Jesus in us, our word must be true. This is honor. The second is courage. Courage is about working in the present. So often it is the fear of the future or the unknown that holds us back in life; but courage deals with today’s problems. Jesus Himself said to work in today for tomorrow has its own issues. Courage is about doing the right thing, even in the toughest of circumstances.

You will find 2 common denominators in these 7 points of valor. The first is the discipline of self-sacrifice. Jesus asked those who would follow Him to take up their cross and do so. The cross is the ultimate symbol of self-sacrifice, for not only did Jesus give up his mortal life, but in the incarnation He gave up His divine right. For Dick Hoyt , his life and goals were forfeit for what he could do for his disabled son. There was one thing that made his son feel alive - and he has sacrificed so much of his time and energy and resources to give his son that freedom. To be a man of valor, a woman who stands for what God stands for, you have to be willing to pay the price of following Jesus. The sacrifice of discipleship is coupled with the concern for others. We do not follow just words of a book, or ideas of a person long gone, we serve our brothers and sisters, our fellow humans regardless of creed or religion. We sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others. That was Jesus’ life, and so it is ours. One way to say this is Chivalry. Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood. It is usually associated with ideals of knightly virtues, honor and courtly love. The word is derived from the French word chevalerie", itself derived from "chevalier", which means knight, derived from "cheval", horse (indicating one who rides a horse). It has a 3 pronged reference: duties to one’s fellow men, including the weak and the poor; duties to God, emphasizing the dedication to one’s Lord and the championing of good over evil; and the duties to women, to his own lady first and after to all ladies in gentleness and graciousness.

A real man is concerned about those who are weaker or less fortunate than he. He would rather suffer personal loss than allow another to be mistreated. He has trained himself to think of others and to act for their good rather than his own. He is always considerate of girls and women and respects their needs for protection and consideration. We live in a man’s world in many aspects and though chivalry is a dated term, it relates to both honor and courage in our lives.

What is our duty to our fellow man? We are called to love our neighbor as our self, and it is in this context we find the parable of the Good Samaritan. Who is our neighbor? Start with those who are in close proximity, and go as far as what Jesus said - the Samaritans of our lives. They are those who believe differently, those who think their faith is right and ours is wrong, those who are racially and culturally mixed; some might even mention our enemies. Paul said it this way in Romans 13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” What does it look like? Think of the tales of the knights. They would support those who are weak and downtrodden. They did it because they had trained for battle: they knew their weapons and how to use them. Have you ever read that passage about the armor of God in Ephesians 6? There is a sense that all of us who are mature Christians are garbed in armor for warfare. We all, as mature Christians, wander about our days as agents of chivalry who help those who are spiritually weak and oppressed. We look for those whom Satan has beat down, whom the world has shut up behind religious bars and stripped of all spiritual esteem; those whom the Creator made in His image and then died for so that they could be restored to a relationship with Him. We watch for those to whom we can help, and we use the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet and foot ware and belt of Truth. It is all there, so that God can do His amazing work in people’s lives through us.

Whether man or woman you are called to something set apart for the elite. One understanding of the knights of old is that you had to have been born into the right family to attain that position. It wasn’t just any lackey off the street that could become a knight. It had to be in their blood. You had to have wealth behind you for the training and the armor and the horse. And you, who are followers of Jesus, have been adopted into the right family. You have the blood of the Lamb on your life so you are called joint heirs of Christ. What is your duty to your fellow man? Stand up and make a difference for those who are weaker and poor, especially when no one else will.

What is our duty to God? Chivalry means we recognize we have a Master or Lord whom we serve. Do you get that picture of a knight standing at a gate or a bridge forbidding all to pass? The knight stands by command, and obeys until his strength runs out. Sometimes it is to the answer of a riddle or the display of virtue that allows passage, but it is the dedication to the Lord that makes the knight risk his life. There is no other option, it is do or die trying. This aspect of chivalry is not unlike the Olympic athletes we have been watching these past 2 weeks. They don’t come to Vancouver to lose; they come to win. There chances may be slim, but they still put in years of training and countless other resources of muscle, sweat and tears just for the chance to compete. They give up the things in life that will take away from their training, They do their school work if they are students, and work as they are able, but their focus is on the training so they can complete the task they have been given to do to the best of their ability. Our duty to God is to give him our focus, our abilities, and allow Him to use us in His mission. His example and character lead us on as we give our all to the task at hand.

What is our duty to women? Men, we live in a society that favors you. While we like to think we are civilized, we still struggle with equal rights. The vulnerable ones of our society need help - children and widows, whether widowed by death, or widowed by absence or abuse. You have to go out of your way to be chivalrous to women, because they will not get it from anywhere else. While Jesus lifted the stature of women; a movement in society in the last 50 years has tried to make us all equal by tearing down men and the institutions of family and marriage. At the same time there has been recognition that men and women are indeed different. One of the greatest tragedies of porn beyond the individuals involved is how it shapes society’s concept of women. They become objects and chattel, pretty things to look at but of no real value. There is great abuse given to the young women of our society. Listen to these stats:
One-half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of violence since the age of 16
Almost one-half of women reported violence by men known to them and one-quarter reported violence by a stranger
One-quarter of all women have experienced violence at the hands of their current or past marital partner (includes common-law unions)
One-in-six currently married women reported violence by their spouses; one-half of women with previous marriages reported violence by a previous spouse
More than one-in-ten women who reported violence in a current marriage have at some point felt their lives were in danger
Six-in-ten Canadian women who walk alone in their own area after dark feel "very" or "somewhat" worried doing so
Women with violent fathers-in-law are at three times the risk of assault by their partners than are women with non-violent fathers-in-law
Source:  Statistics Canada. The Daily,  Thursday, November 18, 1993.

University of Victoria's Sexual Assault Centre posts the following childhood sexual abuse statistics:
1 in 3 females and 1 in 6 males in Canada experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18.
80% of all child abusers are the father, foster father, stepfather or another relative or close family friend of the victim.
Incestuous relationships last 7 years on average
75% of mothers are not aware of the incest in their family
60-80% of offenders in a study of imprisoned rapists had been molested as children
80% of prostitutes and juvenile delinquents, in another study, were sexually abused as children.

In this context, ask yourself how do you treat women? Men, to be a real man today means you have to support and encourage the women around you. While we don’t put them on pedestals, we do recognize the great gift they are from God. In the Creation story we see the partnership God desires, but so often today we are grieving Eden. So much was lost, and we recapture some of that when we honor our women. Respect and graciousness should mark our relationships and our service. Who is looking out for these kids? You and I need to not shirk away from difficult circumstances, but find a way to help women find safe places, and to be a champion on their behalf.

Make the commitment today to be different, to be chivalrous in your approach to people and situations. Stand up for what is right, and strengthen your arm with the Spirit as you go forth in the power of God to proclaim the freedom Jesus brings to our lives today.

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