Archive for the ‘Semper Fidelis’ Category

My nephew, who recently joined the Marine Corp, is now sporting a tattoo which covers his entire right side. It reads: Semper Fidelis. While I am certainly not a fan of tattoos, I was curious to know what those words really mean. I’ve heard the abbreviated term Semper Fi a few times, but honestly, I couldn’t imagine why a simple military motto would be so important that anyone would want to cover one-quarter of their torso with it. Turns out, it isn’t just a simple motto.

Semper Fidelis is the Latin term Always Faithful. Although this popular motto has been commonly used by various peoples and entities since at least the 1500’s, it was adopted by the Marine Corp in 1883 as an absolute way of life. To the Marine, Semper Fidelis is a lifetime commitment to always remain faithful to their mission, to each other, to the Corps and to our country, no matter what. “It is not negotiable. It is not relative, but absolute.”

However, I believe the motto is rooted farther in antiquity than the sixteenth century. I can easily imagine a young (Latin speaking), first-century lover pledging himself to be Semper Fidelis to his darling. The Roman scholars would have been Semper Fidelis to their studies, and the truly devout, Semper Fidelis to their God (or gods).

In fact, few people were as Semper Fidelis to his God than the Apostle Paul. We know that Paul spoke Hebrew, Greek and probably Aramaic, but being born a Roman citizen almost guarantees that he spoke Latin fluently as well. Therefore, he most likely rallied some of his fellow (Roman) believers to obey the call of Semper Fidelis in regards to the tireless work of spreading the Gospel. Whether he used the actual phrase Semper Fidelis or not is inconsequential. What matters is that he avidly taught the principle. For instance, he instructed the Corinthian church to be firm in purpose, resolute in faith, and industrious in service, through the following charge:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).

In other words, he instructed them to be a Semper Fidelis Servus (servus meaning servant or slave), working tirelessly for their master, Jesus Christ. In fact, this call to diligent, faithful servanthood is so important that it is taught throughout the pages of Scripture. Similar to the Marine’s creed of faithfulness, the Christian makes a commitment to be always faithful to their mission- to those who don’t know Jesus as Lord- as well as to their brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the Kingdom of God. Like Semper Fidelis, “It is not negotiable. It is not relative, but absolute.”

The difference is that our commitment to be unconditionally faithful is not borne out of military conditioning (though we are soldiers in God’s army). Our desire to be a Semper Fidelis Servus is the direct result of our great love for our Heavenly Father and for our fellow man. And the good news is (for me anyway), that we don’t need to tattoo our flesh in order to proclaim our faithfulness to God because that is something others can see quite clearly.

May I remind you, dear reader, you may be the only Bible that some folks ever read. Are you giving them a clear “picture” of God’s love, mercy and compassion through your faithfulness? If so, may you one day be blessed to hear your precious Heavenly Father say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant… enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

Postscript: my desire today is to share with you my thoughts on Semper Fidelis, not tattoos. I don’t personally care for them (actually, I hate them), but I am in no way attempting to impose my beliefs on you. Seeing my nephew’s tattoo about faithfulness simply reminded me that God has written His law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and our faithful obedience to Him speaks much louder than words, or pictures.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: