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Our Finest Hour

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Our Finest Hour

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In the summer of 1940, Britain stood alone against Germany in the war, and Germany seemed almost unstoppable. One by one, the great powers of Europe had fallen to the German military. It appeared that Britain would be invaded, as soon as Hitler could finish the demolition of Britain's small air force.

The United States, in an effort to stay out of the war, had maintained a policy of neutrality. Britain was the only thing stopping Hitler's advance.

In those dark days, on June 18, 1940, the prime minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, gave a speech to the country. In steeling his nation's resolve to never give up, he said:

"Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"

Churchill had a keen knowledge of history, and he was proved right. It was Britain's finest hour. This speech also turned out to be one of Churchill's finest hours.

But how does this apply to us, as we seek to put on Christ today and every day?

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

How would you define the term finest hour? I would say it is the moment when your actions speak for your character and values like no other action in your life. It is the moment when you choose to do the right thing. If God would only record one detail of your life for all time, would this moment be it?

I once had the opportunity to talk with a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the highest military decoration of the United States. It is awarded "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy force."

For many of these recipients, the event that was cited was their finest hour, the event that defined their lives. Yet, of the 3,460 medals that have been awarded, 14 of these men received two separate medals for two separate actions.

The event for which they were awarded the medal the first time may not have been their finest hour. As gallant as the occasion that qualified them for their first medal award was, for these men there was another occasion of gallant courage on another day, on another field of battle.

When Will Our Finest Hour Be?

This brings me to my central point. Churchill, with his vast grasp of British and world history, could see that Britain was about to have her finest hour. But not one of us knows when our finest hour will be.

We may have had several finest hours over our years, yet we could find our finest hour is yet to occur in any of the myriad of events of life in the future, events that we cannot even speculate about now.

Maybe our finest hour will come this afternoon on our drive home when we give lifesaving help to the victim of an auto accident, or next month in a private moment when we finally conquer a personal fault that has plagued us for years.

Scripture is full of people being remembered by God at their finest hour.

Who cannot but be touched with the sense of both history and destiny at Mordecai's question to Esther, "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14 Esther 4:14For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father's house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
American King James Version×

Consider Stephen, a man first mentioned in Acts 6:5 Acts 6:5And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
American King James Version×
, but in only a few verses. His finest hour was recorded in Acts 7, when he was stoned for preaching the truth.

Consider how many people in the New Testament rated only a single, brief mention, yet it was of their finest hour, the event that describes their Christian character, that God records, even if only in just a handful of words.

Finest Hours of the Faithful

Hebrews 11, the chapter describing the finest hours of some of the faithful, says:

"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

"By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:4-6 Hebrews 11:4-6 [4] By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks. [5] By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. [6] But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×
, New American Standard Bible).

All these died in faith, as it says in verse 13.

Resuming in verse 32: "And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight" (NASB).

This is a chapter full of the finest hours that the people of faith went though. They became strong, and did exploits, just as the last phrase of Daniel 11:32 Daniel 11:32And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
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says: "And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (King James Version).

Are not exploits the acts of people in their finest hour?

Exploits Don't Have to Be Earthshaking

But exploits don't have to be earthshaking events. Consider what we will remember the Good Samaritan for: showing compassion to someone in dire need, not in some spectacular public way, but in a quiet, almost private, way.

Consider the account in Acts 9:36 Acts 9:36Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and giving of alms which she did.
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of Tabitha who fell sick and died, and as Peter came, all the widows wept over her and showed tunics and other garments she had made for them (verse 39).

Contributing to the Body

We are warned, also by a multitude of witnesses in Scripture, to be careful with our attitudes and our lives.

"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip" (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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Paul was clear that God knows our strengths and weaknesses. He is building His one body from many members, each with an important function.

If the whole body were an eye, how would it hear? If the whole body is made up of people who only have spectacular public exploits, does it have any room for the widow whose strength is in her continual prayers? Does it have any room for a person who knows how to extend help and charity to those in need?

"But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (1 Corinthians 12:24-26 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 [24] For our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked. [25] That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. [26] And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

Paul ends this section with the simple admonition in verse 31: "But eagerly desire the greater gifts" (NIV).

All these greater gifts come when circumstances place a choice in front of us: to act or not to act. To speak out or not to speak out. To hold the truth precious or to be careless with it. To teach or not to teach. To help or not to help. To pray or not to pray. To do the right thing or to waver.

Please allow me to adapt Churchill's words to the Church: As events leading up to the return of our Lord unfold ever more quickly, let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves, so that future Christians will say, "This was their finest hour." UN