Are You David or Davy?

He was half horse, half alligator and a little touched with the snapping turtle. He could wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride on a streak of lightning, slip down a honey locust tree without a scratch and he killed him a bear when he was only three. He was Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier. Of course, that was the legend. But behind the legend was a real person – David Crockett. Born in Greene County, Tennessee on August 17, 1786, Crockett served two terms in the Tennessee legislature, was elected to Congress three times and died defending the Alamo. According to his tombstone, he was a “Pioneer, Patriot, Soldier, Trapper, Explorer, State Legislator, Congressman, Martyred at The Alamo.”

Davy Crockett has been the subject of numerous TV series and is a principal character in all of the movies based on the Alamo. An interesting scene in the 2004 film “The Alamo” depicts Davy and another of the Alamo’s defenders discussing the prospects of certain death. “If it was just me, simple old David from Tennessee, I might drop over that wall some night, take my chances. But that Davy Crockett feller...they're all watchin' him.”

When I heard that line in the movie recently, I thought of its implications for a Christian. In a sense, all of us must make the choice that Crockett faced – whether to be “David” or “Davy.” Will I be that person who thinks only of himself or will I take into consideration how my actions affect others? How many of us realize that others are “watchin’” us and what we choose to do has a profound effect on them? Many historical accounts credit Crockett for boosting the morale of the defenders of the Alamo when he arrived to fight with them. Without “Davy” would they have been able to hold out as long as they did, giving Sam Houston the precious time needed to gather his army – the army that eventually defeated Santa Anna and propelled Texas to independence?

Often those who are “watchin’” us are people who share our values. When this is the case we have the opportunity to influence fellow Christians to do their best. In fact, some of us need the strong example of a “Davy” to encourage us to faithfulness. No doubt, Paul had this in mind when he told Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). In the same way elders are to be “ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). An eldership should be a group of “Davys” that encourage faithfulness on the part of those they lead. All of us should strive to live in such a way that we could say to other, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

At other times those who are “watchin’” are outsiders – even those who despise the church and the Christian way of life. Peter wrote of such when he said, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Paul recognized this as he wrote to Titus, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:7-8). And we remember the words of Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Who knows whether your example might encourage someone to do the right thing?

Not only does this decision have an effect on those around him, but it has a profound effect the individual himself. We must be true to the commitment that we made to the Lord. In our obedience to the gospel, we make a promise to be faithful to the Lord – to live up to the name that we take on in when we enlist in his army. It is far too easy to “drop over the wall” and take our chances when the going gets tough. But we must honor the name that he has bestowed upon us – the name “Christian.” Yes, it involves sacrifice and it might be difficult, even painful, but it is the right thing to do.

Davy Crockett made the ultimate sacrifice when he died defending the Alamo. We may never know the full extent of his motives, but I want to think that he died because he sought to honor a cause greater than himself. Without doubt, we have such an opportunity – not in dying for a greater cause, but in living a life dedicated to the cause of the One who died for us.