2007-11-16 - Everything I Need to Know,
I Learned from a Cowboy
That may be a slight exaggeration, but I have found many nuggets of truth
in the reruns of the Gene Autry Show that I watch when able.
Autry was known in the entertainment and sports worlds (owner of a baseball
team) as not only gifted in his arenas of life, but also as a fine Christian.
In response to the youngsters (and some not so young!) who looked up to him,
Gene authored a Cowboy Code that I would like to share, along with some thoughts
of my own, and several related Bible passages.*
The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair
Exodus 22:2-3 and Nehemiah 4:17-18 are two of several Bible references that
illustrate the principle of self-defense. But we must not ever initiate
unprovoked harm upon anyone. We are to live lives of fairness and justice
(Micah 6:8); (James 2:1-5).
He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him
Both the Old Testament and the New warn us of the evil and consequences of
gossiping and betraying confidences. Proverbs 11:12-13 says it well:
A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor,
but a man of understanding holds his tongue.
A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
He must always tell the truth
The Apostle Paul teaches us about the importance of being honest. He encourages
us to "speak the truth in love" (Epheisans 4:15). And while sometimes today,
it seems that some Christians have become obssesed with abortion, homosexuality
and the like, we sometimes seem to neglect the fact that God's word expresses
some of its harshest words when it comes to the sin of lying:
Rev. 21:27 (New King James Version)
But there shall by no means enter (Heaven) anything that
defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written
in the Lamb's Book of Life.
He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals
Some think that the Bible speaks only of the protection of work animals,
but not so. In fact, though the pet lamb in 2nd Samuel 12 represent's Uriah's
wife (with whom David had an affair), the pet was "like a daughter" to its
owner, and even ate and drank with his family. And we in the US could take
a few lessons from our Japanese friends, when it comes to the treatment of
Leviticus 19:32 (as well as many other passages) instructs us to show respect
for our older family members and friends.
He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas
There is no room for true racism among Christians, for all races are equally
valuable to our Lord Christ. (See Galatians 3:28)
He must help people in distress
Proverbs 19:13 provides pointed words for us, regarding those in need:
He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he
will reward him for what he has done.
And we are to follow the example of our Lord Christ, who ministered to those
He must be a good worker
As Colossians 3:23 reminds us, "Whatever you do, work
at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." At work
(paid or volunteer) and school, we Christians should not be doing just as
little as we can to "get by." Rather, we should stand out as the most diligent
and honest workers, not taking long breaks (which is stealing time), not
spending a lot of time doing personal tasks (which is also stealing), and
always giving our best efforts.
He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal
Paul taught us similarly, in Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV):
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen
in meâput it into practice. And the God of peace will be
He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws
The Cowboy is a Patriot
Though on rare occasions, there is a place for "civil disobedience," in general
the Bible teaches us to be obedient and responsible citizens, especially
in countries such as the U.S., where most of the laws are compatible with
- and sometimes even based on - the Bible's teachings:
As Paul reminds us in Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities
that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who
rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers
hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you
want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right
and he will commend you. 4 For he is God's servant to do you good.
But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.
He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not
only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's
servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone
what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue;
if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
If we as believers can follow the Cowboy Code in our lives, we will probably
eventually hear those yearned-for words, "well done, thou
good and faithful servant."
All Scriptures are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise