“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” ~ Last line of the American Declaration of Independence, signed July 4th, 1776
When our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they knew that they were committing treason against the King of England. They knew that they were not only putting their lives in jeopardy, but also those of their families and their friends. They knew that if caught, they would be executed as traitors. And some were. They knew that they could lose their homes, their property, and their livelihoods. And many did. So why did they do it? Why put so much at risk? Was the freedom to be in charge of your own destiny worth so great a price?
They indeed thought so. They were standing on principle. What they were learning in their churches, teaching in their homes, and practiced in their businesses was not being reflected in the way they were being governed. Their children were being raised to see an earthly King as the ultimate negotiator for their future, when they knew better. They knew that in reality they were freemen, bought at a blood-price, with their rights negotiated by God alone. They were willing to risk everything to ensure that their children did not live under the ever changing whims and desires of a fallible king, but the justice of a perfect God. Liberty was not to be constrained within the walls of a church or a home; it was meant to be experienced by everyone, freely given by He who created all.
The colonists sacrificed greatly to have that which was already given to them by their Creator. Many lives were lost, property destroyed, families ruined. But adherence to the principle of liberty laid the firm foundation of what would be the greatest nation in the world, a nation whose citizens would be blessed with the freedom to proper, and willingly offer those blessings to others in return. No other nation has had a people so willing to sacrifice so much so that their future citizens could live free, and then offer those same blessings of freedom to those also willing to risk it all, leave everything they knew, just in pursuit of that shared principle. All this happened because a group of determined men refused to relinquish their principles before an earthly king.
Would you make so great a sacrifice for principle? Would you pledge your ‘life, your fortune, your sacred honor” to stand for what you knew to be right and true? Or would you be lured by the need to be liked, be cajoled by the comfort of compromise, or be cowered by the specter of defeat? Fortunately, thanks to our Founders, standing on principle today does not have the same grave repercussions as it did back in the 18th century (yet), but it can still be daunting. It often requires you to not only stand, but stand alone. You may lose friends and family, as our Founders did. You may be ridiculed by the ruling class and those that support them, as our Founders were. But one thing you may not realize is that in the silence behind you others are watching. Other friends, other family, your children. They are seeing that there is a difference between right and wrong. That there is a difference between the true liberty that comes from God, and the faux liberty as defined by the state. They are realizing that they are not alone, that failure is not the end, and that there are still those who will not compromise on their principles because it is the right thing to do.
The question I have now is this: what are you teaching this current and next generation with your actions? Are they learning that principles are arbitrary, to be compromised under the slightest pressure, or are they learning courage, strength and boldness, despite the threat of ostracization and defeat? If what you tell your friends, your co-workers, and your children is to “just keep their head down” and weather the storm of unrighteousness, then you are not teaching them how to stand. You are teaching them how to bow.
And between standing and bowing, which represents the posture of a free man?
Furthermore, which represents the posture that God commands us to take?
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1, the Holy Bible (NIV)