Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 31, 2010
A few good men can help us always try to do the right thing
The United States Marines have popularized the phrase, “a few good men.” Most of the Marines I have known have been just that – good men. The Marines have made a difference in defending our freedom. They work together as teams and we admire them for their unwillingness to leave a comrade behind.
One of my habits for many years has been to meet on a regular basis with a few good men, morally speaking. I need the fellowship, counsel, and correction that can come from a close knit group of good men. Over the years I have made my share of mistakes but my close friends have motivated me to try to do the right thing in every situation.
I like to think of these men as “godly” men. To some that may sound too pious. The word “godly” does mean, “devoutly conforming to the will of God.” And I will quickly admit I don’t know anyone who does that perfectly. I realize that I do not. So when I say “godly men,” I mean men who are consciously trying to do “the right thing” and by that I mean the right thing in the eyes of God.
Godly men, then, are men who consistently try to do the right thing. They treat people fairly. They refuse to lie or cheat to make a profit in business. They try to live by the rule of love. They not only believe in forgiveness; they practice it.
Godly men try to live by standards that spring from their faith. For Christians that means standards that one may say are “biblical” standards. Such men (and women) believe that the Bible teaches us how God wants us to live. Godly men do the right thing because they want to please God.
In my first pastorate I recognized godly men who inspired me by doing the right thing. Frank Hugh Pierce was such a man. He ran a body shop and raised a family on a modest income. Though he could have used the money, he refused to pad a car repair bill and split the padding with a customer, thus gouging the insurance company. His example taught me that a person can find the moral courage to do the right thing when tempted to do otherwise.
The highest standard by which we may measure our lives is the example of Jesus. For Christians Jesus is God’s “Plumb Line.” If our conduct is not “in line” with the character of Jesus, then we are “out of plumb” with the will of God. And Jesus makes it clear that the people who are going to heaven are those who are doing the will of God.
God’s standards are found throughout the Bible. They are especially underscored by the Old Testament prophets, one of whom is our good friend Micah. It was Micah who penned one of the most famous sentences in all literature:
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
Micah summed up brilliantly what God expects of us –- to practice justice, kindness, and humility. He warns us that God is not impressed with our “offerings” if at the same time we are mistreating people and proudly “strutting our stuff” in God’s face.
The prophet says such living is not a “request” but what God “requires.” Fairness, mercy, and humility are not suggestions but expectations. The consequences of failing to measure up to God’s expectations are severe, according to Micah. Refuse to do what is right and God will not answer you when you cry out to him. He will even “hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly.”
Moral corruption bothered Micah. He knew that injustice could cause the downfall of the nation. This is an important lesson for America today. Our greatest enemy is not some foreign nation but the temptation to embrace the immorality of our pagan culture and ignore God’s standards for living.
The temptations of our society are great. As individuals we all need moral strength. Being accountable to a few good men can help us find the backbone to do the right thing.
Meeting with a few other men helps me stay on the straight and narrow path. My heart fills with gratitude when I recall the men whose friendship has helped me all my life to try to do the right thing. Such men are among God’s best gifts. Without them I would have succumbed often to the temptation to think that I needed no man’s counsel.
While it is true that none of us is capable of always doing the right thing, surely the world would be a better place if we tried. And a few good men help me enormously in the trying. + + +