What is a hero? We hear the word a lot, but do we really know what it means?
If someone is adept at sports or plays an electric guitar extremely well, we might refer to that person as a hero. There is even a sandwich called the hero. But what is a hero?
A hero is someone who does something selfless and sacrificial, someone who puts the needs of others above themselves. I think we have a lot of celebrities in our culture, but very few heroes. We need more heroes.
Historian Daniel Boorstin summed it up this way: “The hero is known for achievements, the celebrity for well-knownness. The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature, the celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and the media.”
Without a doubt, our veterans are heroes. We observe Veterans Day to honor them, and rightly so. I think of the late Louis Zamperini, the World War II veteran and prisoner of war whose story was the subject of the film Unbroken. He spoke at our church and at a Harvest Crusade, and I remember him being full of energy and love for the Lord.
Then there are unsung heroes. In contrast to heroes who may get the recognition they deserve, unsung heroes rarely do. These are the people who work behind the scenes, who do a lot of the heavy lifting, but they’re rarely rewarded for it.
The Bible is filled with stories of unsung heroes.
There is Caleb, who went into the Promised Land with Joshua to scout it out. After more than eighty years of faithfully serving the Lord, it was Caleb who said, “So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12 NLT).
Caleb still was serving God, even in his later years. He clearly was an unsung hero.
In the New Testament we have Andrew, the classic unsung hero. Andrew originally followed John the Baptist, who pointed to Jesus and said, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36 NLT). When Andrew heard this, he began to follow Jesus. And then he found his brother, Simon, and told him they had found the Messiah.
Simon Peter was the dominant force, the guy who always led others. Andrew very easily could have said, “You know, I’m not even going to tell him about this. I want Jesus all to myself.” But he didn’t do that. Andrew found his brother and brought him to Jesus (see John 1:42).
In fact, whenever we read of Andrew in the New Testament, he is bringing someone to Jesus. Andrew was always working behind the scenes.
It reminds us there is no end to what we can accomplish if we’re willing to get the job done, not worry about the accolades, and simply do it for God’s glory.
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