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Working as a Believer

“In Valor There is Hope”: Recapping Police Week 2024

In Valor There is Hope Recapping Police Week 2024
Image Credit: Caleb Fisher from Unsplash.com

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (Hebrews 11:33-14)

 

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12)

Under one of the lions on our Wall (the National Law Enforcement Memorial) are carved the words, “IN VALOR THERE IS HOPE” (a quote from First Century Roman historian and senator, Gaius Cornelius Tacitus).

Now Tacitus was no Christian. In fact, he was a supporter, eye witness and “reporter” of Emperor Nero’s horrific treatment of Christians (Tacitus on Christ). So what then does this quote actually mean, who does it apply to, and why am I basing a Bible study on it?

As shown on our Wall, the simplest meaning of these five words is that the valor demonstrated through our honorable and courageous service as peace officers (a God-ordained calling) gives hope to those we serve and protect. But is there more? Is there not a biblical nexus to Tacitus’ Latin phrase (Spes in virtute) even if he did not intend it so?

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The word translated as “valor” in English is the Latin word for “virtue” (Virtūs or virtute). The original meaning is military courage and strength, or “valor.” A valiant warrior is one who displays valor. In Latin, “vir” literally means “man,” and so this is a kind of root virtue pointing us to the Roman military notion that “manliness” is that height of virtue that a truly valiant man shows in the heat of battle.

So, what then is our biblical nexus here? Well, let’s start with the two passages of Scripture I shared above. In Hebrews 11, we find the “heroes of the faith.” But what (or Who) gave them valor? Who gave Gideon (Judges 6:12 — whom God found cowering and hiding in a winepress) — his valor? God alone! In fact, without Him, we are ultimately powerLESS.

Thirteenth century theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas, teaching on this subject, associated heart, soul, mind, and strength (valor) with the four cardinal virtues of temperance, justice, prudence and courage. Are these virtues not foundational with how we are to serve in our God-ordained (Romans 13:1-4) profession of law enforcement?

Look again at Hebrews 11:32-34 where the writer describes God’s “heroes of the faith” who, acting under the power (valor) of God Himself:

“…enforced justice, obtained promises,  stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”

While this is most certainly “cop stuff”, the context is clear: they could accomplish nothing outside of God’s valorous strength and power (and not of themselves, lest they should boast —  Ephesians 2:9).

So biblically speaking, the word “valor” describes a Christian servant-warrior’s God-given courage, strength (might), fearlessness, and bravery, especially in military combat and in what we do in as LEO’s on the “thin blue line.”

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In the Hebrew, the concept of “valor” is repeatedly used to describe God Himself (the ultimate warrior — Exodus 15:3). It should therefore be no surprise that those of us who follow Him can rightly say:

“Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 60:12).

One anonymous Christian writer put it like this:

“Anyone who desires to do valiantly for His Lord and Master must first prepare his heart. No one knows when the opportunity for valor will arise, but all can be ‘ready for every good work’ every day (Titus 3:1). Anyone who desires to do valiantly must martial (a military/police word) and be willing to hazard everything he holds dear for the cause for which he stands and for that which he loves —  with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength, withholding nothing (Matthew 6:21). Anyone who desires to do valorous deeds must wholly submit his interests to his one and only Master (Matthew 6:24).”

More? Consider just the following:

Ephesians 6:10  — “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)

 

Daniel 11:32  — “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11:32)

And then we come to the concept of HOPE. God also makes it clear in His Word that unless we first know Christ as Lord and Savior, our acts of human valor and so-called “good” deeds are ultimately without hope and power (see John 3:1-21, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, and more ).

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Clearly, as Edward Mote wrote in his famous hymn (“The Solid Rock”):

“My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand…”

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Friends, the meaning is crystal clear: unless we repent of our sin and are born again (John 3:1-21) in Christ (again, the ultimate “Servant-Warrior” —Revelation 19:11-16) alone (John 14:6, Acts 4:12), it is impossible for us to ever be “good” enough or have enough “valor” to give us the hope of heaven and escape an otherwise righteous judgment in hell. So yes, “IN VALOR THERE IS HOPE” but only if that valor is grounded in the hope that is found in a genuine, life-saving/life-changing personal relationship with Christ alone. IN VALOR THERE IS HOPE: The simplest meaning of these five words is that the valor demonstrated through our honorable and courageous service as peace officers gives hope to those we serve and protect. But is there more? Share on X

So, do you have this God-given valor and hope? Are you sure? Let’s dig a little further as I bring this article to a close.

As I stated, Tacitus was not a believer. While his writings indicate that he may be have been an eye witness to Jesus’ trials and crucifixion, there is no evidence he ever came to a saving faith. As such, his famous words will ultimately fall on “sinking sand” (aka, quicksand). Accordingly, understand that an officer or soldier (or anyone) seeking to rely on his/her own valor, deeds, strength, etc. to gain lasting “glory” (heaven) — without Christ — will fail (even if we survive this profession, short of rapture, age will defeat us all).

But what about the other lion on our Wall in DC with the quote from Proverbs 28:1:

The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

Who are “the righteous” here?  While there is a quasi-secular focus, we need to understand that, ultimately, ONLY those who have been made righteous by what Christ did for us on the cross will have an eternal reward in heaven. As with biblical valor, ONLY God who can make us “righteous” and give us the strength (valor) to be “bold as lions.”

So, is it right to honor and remember our fallen on Memorial Day and during Police Week? To use their stories to inspire us to “serve and protect” with valor and honor? Absolutely! But we must also understand that all the heroism and valor in the world, without being in a right relationship with Christ, is utterly without hope (and Valhalla is nothing more than a hopeless pagan myth).

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Especially during Police Week and Memorial Day, as I visit our memorials and cemeteries, I ask myself, “How many of these heroes died without a saving faith (without hope)?” And it is these thoughts and questions that should inspire us to have a “Code 3” (lights and siren) sense of urgency to share the hope we have in Christ with the lost (the hopeless) so that they will have every chance to be saved (backup of the eternal kind) and spend eternity in heaven. Ultimately, that’s our mission and purpose here!

Again, regardless of one’s worldly valor (our honorable services as police officers), unless we pass from this earth in a right relationship with Christ, our deeds are truly “sinking sand” (worthless, hopeless), and we will NOT be spending eternity in heaven.

Praise God, He — the most valiant of all warriors — is also the King of all hope, and His loving desire is that “none should perish” in hell (2 Peter 3:9). But this comes with the truth that He alone is the ONLY way we can have the assurance (eternal HOPE) of heaven (John 14:6, Acts 4:12).

So again, I ask: do you have that hope? Are you serving with Holy Spirit powered hope and valor? If not, you can (and thus begin to be used by God to make a real difference for eternity NOW in our homes, agencies, communities and our country as a whole).

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Michael "MC" Williams is a 35-year law enforcement veteran who recently retired at the rank of Detective/Criminal Investigator. MC continues to write, train and present to law enforcement professionals and others around the country. He's the founder and director of the Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry (www.thecenturionlawenforcementministry.org).

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