Firefighters Values: A History Lesson

Many of us look upon our symbols in the fire service today without much thought. But, did you know that the Maltese Cross is based upon the eight points of the Be-Attitudes from Jesus’s sermon on the mount found in the Gospel of Matthew?

In the world today, many argue for the removal of God or any Faith based traditions. Perhaps we would all be wise to revisit our history as firefighters. Let us take a walk down memory lane by looking at the patch we wear: The Maltese Cross.

We see the eight points of the maltese cross. This symbol was awarded to the first firefighters who braved the perils of fire to save their fellow knights who were being burned alive. This symbol reminds us that we will lay down our lives if necessary for others. These first firefighters adopted eight points based on the be-attitudes (from Matthew Chapter 5 of Jesus’ sermon on the mount) which have been adopted to more of a secular meaning.

The eight points also symbolize the eight obligations or aspirations of the knights:

to live in truth
to have faith
to repent one’s sins
to give proof of humility
to love justice
to be merciful
to be sincere and wholehearted
to endure persecution

The following is God’s word from Matthew 5:3-10 with an interpretation in parenthesis for firefighters:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of the heavens is theirs. (Have you ever been down? Take comfort, it is then that we realize our need for God.)

Blessed are the ones mourning, because they will be comforted. (Have you suffered great loss? personally, professionally, politically? God’s promise is to bring us a comfort that no one else can bring.)

Blessed are the gentle ones, because they will inherit the earth. (As firefighters, we extend a gentle hand to the hurting hearts and bodies of others; God will reward us for such service.)

Blessed are the ones hungering and thirsting as to righteousness, because they will be filled-to-satisfaction. (Have you searched for something more? Has the world’s wisdom disappointed you? betrayed you? and their hypocrisy ultimately shown its face? God has placed a desire within us all to seek Him, to hunger for more, and to lead a blameless life through Him. This passion that is within us all comes from Him.)

Blessed are the merciful ones, because they will be shown-mercy. (As firefighters, the desire to show love and respond to those in need is almost innate. The world constantly tells us to respond to those who wrong us with vengeance but God’s word tells us to be merciful not because they deserve it but because we have been shown great mercy. As we serve those in need, remember we were in great need and Jesus responded to the 911 call of our heart not because we deserved it but because He loves us.)

Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. (A pure heart is like a rare and precious jewel; In this world, it is impossible to have a pure heart without God. For we will be tempted, drawn away, and corrupted by the world’s desires. As firefighters, our hearts can remain pure by seeking a continuous relationship with Jesus and sharing our heart with others. So that when others see us; they see Him by our actions, our words, and our very lives.)

Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God. (A peacemaker doesn’t compromise their principles; they bring resolution to conflict through the wisdom of God. As a firefighter brings a sense of normalcy back to a chaotic and tragic situation; God’s love and Holy Spirit allows us to make peace with others no matter the conflict.)

Blessed are the ones having been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, because the kingdom of the heavens is theirs. (Persecution in America is not like what the rest of the world is suffering. As firefighters we see those who are ridiculed, excluded, and even lose their jobs for their faith. Relationships have often been lost because of our faith. Jesus reminds us that if we keep the faith and don’t give up that the kingdom of heaven is ours. The world will not understand; but we will endure and continue on as a good soldier in Christ Jesus.)

In closing, as firefighters we have been given a rich history that is based upon transcendent values given from Jesus Himself; let us not overlook them. The symbols we carry have meaning thus our lives should due justice to represent them. The secular world doesn’t understand but its our job to show His love in-spite of this. Those who disagree or hurt us are the very ones we should be ministering to.

Let us not grow weary in the face of life’s great challenges! Look upon the cross on our uniform and be reminded of those who have gone before us.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

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