Noblesse oblige was Merriam-Webster’s word of the day this past Sabbath. The definition provided says noblesse oblige is “the obligation of honorable, generous, and responsible behavior associated with high rank or birth.” The direct translation from French is “noble obligation.” The spiritual inclinations of my thoughts being enhanced by the calm of the Sabbath peace immediately brought to mind the Christian aspect of this phrase as I digested it into my vocabulary. My thoughts lingered on the words from 1 Peter 1:3 and 4 which tell us God has “begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”
Perhaps, this is not the type of high birth normally associated with the phrase noblesse oblige, but is there a more noble birth than that provided by the Holy Spirit? In this spiritual war in which we are entangled, is the king on the throne of a more noble birth than the servant who is washed in the blood of Christ? As we step daily into the battle between good and evil, what is true nobility? Is it the nobility of kings on thrones, presidents, or prime ministers who have their arrogance propped up by their earthly power and wealth? Or is it the nobility of the new man who has buried the old man beneath the waters of baptism and who has embraced the sanctification which surely follows faith? There is no more noble birth than that provided by the merciful God who delivers us unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Therefore, with that noble birth comes the noblesse oblige of Christians or Christian noble obligation.
The obligations of spiritual nobility go much farther than the honorable, generous, and responsible behavior obliged by earthly nobility. As the world descends into chaos, Christians are called to be orderly. As the world spikes the football in the endzone and celebrates in gloating frolics, the Christian is called to be humble. As the world spends its time in leisure, the Christian is called to visit the elderly and the imprisoned. As the world buys a 3rd car, the Christian is called to feed the hungry and clothe the poor. As the world vibrates with nervous anxiety in the face of a pandemic, the Christian is called to calm faith in God. As the world complains about every inconvenience, the Christian is called to stoicism. As the world retaliates, the Christian is called to be forgiving, patient, and enduring even turning the other cheek. As the world says love those who love you, respect those who respect you, and be good to those who are good to you, the Bible tells the Christian to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. As the world is boastful and arrogant, the Christian is called to meekness. As the world says do whatever feels good, the Christian is called to hunger and thirst after righteousness. As the world clamors for war, the Christian is called to be a peacemaker. As the world demands revenge, the Christian is called to be merciful. As the world says keep your faith private, the Bible tells the Christian to let your light shine before men. As the world uses charity as a marketing gimmick, the Christian is called to hide the good deeds of the right hand from the left hand.
Christian ways are not the world’s ways. Christians are misunderstood and viewed as peculiar in the world. To be called as a Christian is the noblest calling. May God help us as we endeavor toward the Christian ideals associated with noblesse oblige.
This is a brief message about what Christian behavior should look like.
By Robby Lockeby