Deny self – Captain Ronald Speirs

Captain Ronald Spiers, as portrayed in Showtime’s Band of Brothers, made an interesting statement about the nature of life and warfare.

Ronald Speirs, 1945.  Public Domain.

Ronald Speirs, 1945.
Public Domain.

Near the end of the Battle of the Bulge, Captain Speirs was put in charge of Easy Company. While walking the lines, he came across a soldier, Albert Blithe, cowering in a foxhole outside of Carentan. This particular soldier was so overcome with fear he could hardly move, much less fire his rifle. Speirs said this to him:

“You hide in that ditch because you think there’s still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier’s supposed to function. Without mercy. Without compassion. Without remorse. All war depends upon it.”

This scene in Band of Brothers reminds me of the very foundation of our calling: radical self-abandonment.

During the first year of Jesus’ ministry, His popularity soared. He was the latest and greatest thing to hit Palestine. Knowing that some were likely following a fad, He said this:

‘Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.’ Mark 8:34-35 CSB

Notice the quadruple emphases to make His point:

Deny self
Take up cross
Follow
Lose life

Captain Speirs might say this to us:

The sooner you accept the fact the you’re already dead, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a Christian is supposed to function—without fear, full of compassion, and ready to speak the message of Good News!

The Apostle Paul echoes Jesus when he said this:

‘I die every day!’ 2 Corinthians 11:28 CSB

Check out Band of Brothers here:

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