Originally scheduled for July 19
The word “hero” has undergone a bit of a change in my lifetime. May
I remind you of its older definitions.
A hero is someone you admire, or look up to. For the most part in
our time this is now someone who is a movie character or found on
The thought being a spur to the action, it is also someone that you
imitate. Little children in my youth were often found with a towel
tied around their neck so that they might be Superman.
Perhaps most important, a hero is one you think about and imagine
yourself being like him.
Jimmy Cagney, just before his death, was asked to compare the films
of his day and those of our own.
He thought for a moment, then said, “Our villains were better
men than your heroes.” A sad comment, but it spurs us to think: just
what should a hero look like?
Paul gives us a list here:
The foundation stone of things admirable—they must first be true.
The meaning of the word is almost lost in English; newer
translations use “honorable.” That which is worthy of being
praised. In older times a sportsman might applaud a brilliant
play by the opposing team; that carries the meaning.
The word refers to that which is just, or fair. We still like
to know that someone gets his “just deserts” - whether punishment
for crime or reward for good deeds.
The word in the original meant moral purity, or chastity.
Chastity and modesty are not much admired these days. But
those who are married might consider the alternative in their own
wives. Praise her, think well of her, for her modesty.
The word means something like “friendly towards.” Hard to
understand? Try this: when a pretty girl smiles at an
old man it lights his whole day.
Admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.
Some things we know about only by reputation. A good
reputation is a blessing both to the owner and those who know him.
He then gives us the proper response to the true hero:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy
of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and
received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the
God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)
We don’t often think of Christ as a “hero.” May I suggest that we
should look at Him this way.
We should admire him for what he has done.
To the extent that we can, we should most definitely imitate him.
“What Would Jesus Do” is still a valid question today. Train your
imagination; see yourself as one who does what Jesus does.
Surprisingly perhaps, he is one on whom we should meditate — “think
on these things.”
The ultimate heroic act was performed at the Cross. There the
innocent one was sacrificed as our Passover lamb. In communion we
take the time to remember this. We remember his body on the cross in
the bread; remember his blood in the cup. In so doing we remember
the real hero of the human race.