...is the obligation of the nobility to the poor much like Luke 12:48 "...From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." When this first appeared in print the early 1800's, the concept was there, but not the terminology.
Translated from the French, noblesse oblige means "nobility obligates." Originally, the term was used to suggest that certain requirements of behavior could be legitimately imposed upon persons of noble birth. Noblesse oblige in modern English is a broad concept which implies that anyone who possesses special talents or gifts is required by society to make the best use of those gifts; that he or she is duty-bound to do his or her best. It is required by society, but even more so by God.
What if we took this principle to heart and believed that we are held personally accountable for our stewardship. What if we knew there is a direct correlation between what we are given and what we give. God looks not only at how well we open our heads, our hearts and our hands, but also at the attitude with which we do these things.
In 1994, Forbes magazine profiled a man who lived in the USA but was the son of a Czechoslovakian aristocrat who fled the Republic at the age of 10. When the Czech government was democratized he was able to reclaim his family's wealth and estates. His holdings are vast and include castles, artwork by the masters, a phenomenal library, original musical manuscripts by Mozart and Beethoven, thousands of acres, a vineyard and a brewery (dating from 1466) and well, you get the picture. The surprising fact is, rather than sell off the bulk of these holdings and making himself obscenely wealthy, he has taken a different approach: "We are merely custodians of the cultural treasures that must be preserved for future generations" (Berman, 1994).
He feels it is his obligation to maintain all these irreplaceable objects for the people of the Czech Republic. Societal pressures here compels him to act selflessly and honorably—the very essence of noblesse oblige.
The strength and power of this concept can be rightfully applied to Christians. If we know the depths of God's love and mercy and if we know that His grace is available to all who will call upon His name, then we are obligated by His word and this concept to show the world "a life lived in Christ". Who among us can deny that to call ourselves Christians is the very definition of noble? ..."possessing outstanding qualities"...Not through any work we may have done but by the grace of God. Who can hold to such a gift and not share it with a hurting and troubled world?
We are blessed to hold the key to locking up the evil that prevails in our world. We are called upon by God to share this key with anyone and everyone. We are obligated to share so that the world may know what manner of God we serve. Noblesse Oblige...