Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals who ever lived, conquered almost the entire known world with his vast army. One night during a campaign, he couldn’t sleep and left his tent to walk around the campground,
As he was walking he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty – a serious offense. The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was, in some cases, instant death; the commanding officer sometimes poured kerosene on the sleeping soldier and lit it.
The soldier began to wake up as Alexander approached him. Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his life.
“Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?” The General asked the soldier.
“Yes, sir,” he responded in a quivering voice.
“Soldier, what’s your name?” demanded the great Conqueror.
Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the eye. “Soldier,” he said with intensity, “either change your name or change your conduct.”
Our word of the week, “conduct,” is one of those unique English words that has one spelling, but two pronunciations depending on whether you’re using it as a verb or a noun. English Bibles use the word both ways. You will recognize it when you read the following two verses.
“I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15. NASU)
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (I Pet 2:12, ESV)
Our conduct has to do with manner of life. Behavior. Deportment. It means to act in a certain manner. Or to acquit. As “he acquitted himself well under extreme pressure.”
According to the Oxford dictionary, “conduct” is from an old Latin word that means “brought together.” The term originally denoted a provision from safe passage. Later the verb sense “lead, guide, arose hence to manage. Later the word was used regarding the of management of oneself in terms of behavior.
Our safe passage in our journey to eternity depends our conduct. In the previous two passages, Christians are reminded to conduct themselves appropriately as members of God’s family, His church.
We often remind our children that their behavior is a reflection, for good or bad, upon the family name. Those who wear the name “Christian” ought to conduct themselves in a certain way.
Peter says our conduct should be honorable among unbelievers and evil doers. Honorable means “beautiful by reason of heart and life; and hence praiseworthy; morally good; noble. It carries the idea of beauty, comeliness; admirable.” We must be the “beautiful people” of the world in righteous conduct.
The Christian’s conduct should be holy. The Bible says, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” (1 Pet 1:15, ESV) To be holy is to be set apart for God. Sanctified from a sinful life style. Morally pure, upright and undefiled.
The apostle Paul says we are to put off our “former conduct, the old man who grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” Instead we are to be renewed in the attitude of our minds and put on the new person created in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-23).
What God is saying to us is this: “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27, NASU). You wear the name of Christ. Conduct yourself accordingly. Or else change your name!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman