The other day, I watched one of favorite old movies, the original 1944 version of The Canterville Ghost. It takes place in England during World War II and stars Charles Laughton, Robert Young, and a very young Margaret O’Brien.
Margaret was so endearing and spoke so beautifully as a child. In the film, the phrase “noblesse oblige” arises because she is of English nobility and offers help to the American soldiers. I love hearing her say the phrase…noblesse oblige…in her perfect diction.
The phrase stuck in my mind, so I looked it up to be sure I knew what it meant. It is a French phrase and literally means “nobility obligates”. The principle behind noblesse oblige is benevolent and honorable behavior considered the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank.
Therefore, one of nobility must conduct himself in a fashion that conforms to one’s position and with the reputation that one has earned by simple acts of kindness and generosity to help another, usually one who is less fortunate. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., said, “Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.”
All this made me stop and think. Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins and salvation of lost souls which adopted them into the family of God and His Kingdom which made them kin to the King’s Son, the Prince. So as part of the family, I am a princess, a daughter of the King I am of the highest nobility…that heavenly nobility.
My conclusion is that as a member of this Royal Family, I have a responsibility to:
- conduct myself honourably
- live in a fashion that is befitting my position in Christ
- engage in acts of kindness and generosity to help others
- do all in a way that reflects positively on my Father the King
If you have joined that heavenly family, you are a princess or a prince as a daughter or son of the King, and, as part of that family, you are that nobility of heaven. It is, then, your duty — your noblesse oblige — to behave honorably and to give back to others.
If we give out of a heart of love with the thought of supplying some real need in someone’s life, then we reflect the Father’s image and likeness, upholding that reputation of the family.
However, if we cannot pry open our hearts and our wallets to let go of whatever another needs, then their lack may go unfulfilled, and, sometimes, so will ours, for scripture says, “It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself.” (Prov. 11:24, TLB)
It is not the size of the gift that matters but the condition of the heart. We give out of what we have, whether a little or a lot, “For if the [eager] readiness to give is there, then it is acceptable and welcomed in proportion to what a person has, not what he does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12, AMP)
When we give generously, whether of ourselves or of our possessions, scripture says,
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:6-8, NKJV)
Do we conduct our lives in the noblesse oblige way so that we reflect our position in the royal family? Do we perform simple acts of kindness and generosity to help and encourage others?
Is your life a reflection of noblesse oblige?