If there is, I don’t know where it is. There is on the other hand, passages of scripture that seem to indicate that we are not to compromise on matters of significant spiritual importance that might violate our conscience.
This is the second in a four part series where we will look at examples of standing firm making a sacrificial decision for the greater long term good. These are not stories, fables, legends or illustrations. All are well documented historical accounts. Two are from the bible and two are from military history.
For today’s episode, let me give you some personal background. It was the summer before my senior year in high school. In fact, it was Aug 15th – the dreaded day football practice begins. Each player needs two pairs of cleats. One for practice and one for games. For my game cleats, I chose Spotbilt’s. They were known for their light weight and fashion (white cleats were not the norm in those days). By an odd twist of fate, the Spotbilt brand was hatched by O.J. Simson! For practice, I needed durability – not fashion. These cleats had to last an entire season. The brand I chose was Pheidippides. They were no fashion statement, but they were known for their rugged durability.
Those of us who had a pair of Pheidippides were often asked how to pronounce it and what the heck as Pheidippides? Here’s an what I found out in my unintended history lesson:
The Spartan 300
The conquest of Greece was underway. The invading army of Xerxes was on the march. Their conquest of Greece would require them to approach by way of a narrow passage (a “choke point” in military parlance) near Thermopylae. A small band of Spartans organized to stand in the gap. Not to defeat the enemy and send them home in retreat. They knew their force was meager against an overwhelming enemy. But they also knew that time was needed to organize troops to protect the homeland. They knew they could slow Xerxes down to buy the time that was needed. They knew they would all die.
The Spartan’s fought valiantly. At the end of the first day of battle, some 6400 Persian soldiers lay dead at at cost of only 192 Spartans. One of the surviving soldiers, Pheidippides, was dispatched as a courier to send the news of the battle (as well as critical intelligence regarding enemy numbers, strength, tactics, and weaponry) to the nearest town so that opposition could be organized.
Pheidippides was chosen because he was an athlete – an Olympian you might say. He had competed in numerous long distance running events – and won. He arrived in the nearest town where he soon died of exhaustion. But before his death, he gave them the critical intelligence from the battlefield. Resistance was organized. Xerxes was ultimately defeated.
The distance of Pheidippides’ run was 26.2 miles. The city he ran to was Marathon. Today we continue to honor one of the valiant Spartan 300. A marathon run is 26.2 miles for a reason!
Sometimes there are no good choices. The Spartan 300 choose to die so as to better position their team for future battles. They did not fear honorable defeat – they embraced it as an opportunity. They did not choose surrender. They did not defect to the army that was sure to win. Xerxes had assimilated several former enemy armies and treated them well – tyrants need the allegiance of their troops. They did not call for more troops or reinforcements. They chose to fight valiantly – to certain defeat and death – to preserve and increase the strength of their comrades who would fight another day. For the Spartan 300, when there were no good choices, they chose faith over fear.
When faced with a decision that offers a choice between the lesser of two evils, is your decision going to be based on faith – or fear?
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.
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