“What do you have that you did not receive?”
Jesus’ apostle asked this of the church at Corinth (1st Corinthians 4:7). Why? The context makes it apparent that some there were presumptuously judging the apostle and arrogantly boasting about it.
Do you see the point of the question for them? Do we see the point of the question for us? Like the Corinthians, everything we enjoy today, has come to us at the expense or effort of those who have gone before us.
We drive on nice roads because others rode in wagons & built railroads.
We read because someone taught us.
We eat because another planted, tended & harvested.
We have wonderful spouses, but we did not raise them.
We live free because others fought those who would have enslaved us. Yes, those who never came back are the reason for this Holiday.
We also enjoy a healthy, thriving congregation because someone preached Jesus years ago and others built on that foundation.
There was a gospel to preach because….. well, you know all about that. Where would we be without a God who would send his Son, and the Son who willingly died so that we might live?
Memorial Day. What a fantastic idea!
Humble yourself church, for all that’s been given you. Indeed, what do we have that we have not in so many ways received from the sacrifices of others?
What Could Be Worse Than War?
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse”
John Stuart Mill, British philosopher
Mill’s words tell us that there are some things worth war. Ironically enough, it is actually love in the minds of right-thinking people, compelling them to fight. Do you love your freedom? Do you love freedom for your children and grandchildren? There is a debt of gratitude we owe those who’ve faced the ugliness of war for our sake and not come home.
God determined that governments should exist in order to take up the sword against those who do evil (Romans 13:1-4). Where would we be without that sword, and where would we be without those willing to bear it?
George Orwell is attributed with the statement, “Civilized men sleep soundly because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” A great many rough men have given their “last full measure of devotion”, as Abraham Lincoln put it, for our peace.
General Ulysses S. Grant said, “I have never advocated war except as means of peace, so seek peace, but prepare for war. Because war... War never changes. War is like winter and winter is coming.”
We have seen winter, and its horrible cost. And yet, there is truth in the somewhat hard to swallow statement by General George Patton concerning combat losses, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” His words affront us with a different perspective.
I hate the cross of Jesus for obvious reasons, but at the same time there is nothing I love so much. It is at once, horrifically ugly, and infinitely beautiful. His profound sacrifice secured that for which I was in desperate need.
So it is with those our nation has lost to war, whom we honor this Memorial Day.