The Medal of Honor

February 13th: Ash Wednesday

We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see– we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
2 Corinthians 6:1-10

They call it the Medal of Honor. It is the highest award given by the military. Even presented by the President. It was awarded yesterday to an Army soldier who fought to defend a combat outpost from an attack by 300 enemy fighters. Eight Americans died in the battle. It is the subject of a new book called The Outpost.

The past two days I have been running on the track at the Dodge Center, and each day I’ve been running with something that caught my eye. First it was a man with a red tee shirt on that had the word HONOR on the back. He said he had been an Army Ranger, and it was to help the Pat Tillman Foundation. Tillman had been in the NFL, but after 9-11 he enlisted in the Army and joined the Rangers.

Then today there was a fellow running wearing a Marines shirt. He was going into the Marines in one month.

Honor. We Christians have a medal of honor, too. It is called the Cross. We wear it as jewelry or have a cross in our homes or offices. St. Paul was worthy of that medal. Consider what he endured to spread the Gospel of Jesus.

This Lent, when we want to do something to have a holier, more meaningful Lent, we need only think of Paul’s words. What does God want? What will bring us closer to him? His words guide us: “purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute.” That’s how we can have a holy Lent, and a joyous Easter.