Last time we looked at what it means for men to "carry the colors" in the battlefield of life. How, in practical terms, can a single man live this sacrificial life? Let me tell you about Fred and Ed. Fred is Mr. Faithful on our sound team. He has been there for years, serving in obscurity, the first to be at the meetings and the last to leave. Ed serves on the parking team, rain or shine, helping people find spaces in the crowded parking lot. He also runs our nursing-home ministry, taking a team of folks out on Sundays to visit the elderly.

So what's the big deal? Well, Fred also happens to be an owner of a prestigious engineering firm downtown. Ed also happens to teach biblical studies at the graduate level. Fred and Ed could have traded on their personal accomplishments for prominence in the church. Instead they took up the banner of servanthood, and are calling others to follow.

How can you live the sacrificial life? How about by not letting your job dictate your life? Leave the carrot of the career fast-track for someone else to grope at. How about by learning to babysit? Or by trading some nights in front of the tube for serious study of Scripture? How about helping a single mother rake her leaves? How about developing fewer opinions and more questions? You get the idea. It's about responsibility.

In 1961, the USS Thresher nuclear submarine sank with 129 crew members aboard. The commander of the nuclear navy, Admiral Hyman Rickover, was summoned to Congress and asked to assess blame for the disaster. A strong leader, he had not only developed the nuclear program, but had butted heads with politicians over it for years. He knew he had enemies who were seeking to exact revenge. When asked to give his opinion as to what had gone wrong, he could have easily blamed any number of technical or human factors, but he shouldered the blame himself. In his testimony he explained:

Responsibility is a unique concept: it can only reside and inhere in a single individual. You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you. You may disclaim it, but you cannot divest yourself of it. Even if you do not recognize or admit its presence, you cannot escape it. If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance, or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.

Read that again and ponder it. What the admiral defined as responsibility, in older times was known as duty. For duty men often went to war, and sometimes to prison. For duty men told the truth, and men respected women. To carry the colors in a parade was an honor. To carry the colors in battle was duty. Sadly, the concept of duty is as out of favor in our day as is the idea of driving the speed limit.

Faith is a prerequisite of duty. That's why duty is never about doing things out of guilt. A man oriented to duty recognizes that nothing of consequence gets done unless someone puts himself on the line. Nehemiah was broken-hearted about the desolation of Jerusalem, but what set him apart was that he did something about it. It involved risk and hardship, but he saw that the occasion needed a man. He sought the Lord, heard God's call, and did his duty. Are you looking for fresh challenges in God, or are you bunkered down in survival mode? In an age where men avoid responsibility like it's a polyester leisure suit, a single man who is grace-motivated and duty-bound can make a difference in this world.

Next time we will take a look at resolve-clear-eyed, level-headed, sober-thinking-fueled by the burning reality that service in this life is the only battle that matters.

 

Recommended Resources:

The Rich Single Life by Andrew Farmer: "The truths contained in The Rich Single Life could revolutionize your understanding of singleness. Andrew Farmer skillfully shows single Christian men and women what a rich and valuable opportunity they have. Just as importantly, he explains how to take full advantage of that opportunity. This book will help you live the single life in all the fullness of God." -Joshua Harris, author and pastor. Available from the Sovereign Grace Store.

Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle: What young men will be, in all probability, depends on what they are now, and they seem to forget this. "Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age. A boy may bend an oak, when it is a sapling-a hundred men cannot root it up, when it is a full-grown tree." Though aimed at young men, all Christians will greatly benefit from Ryle's practical wisdom concerning the dangers of pride, the love of pleasure and thoughtlessness discussed in a warm but frank manner.