How should we question authority? Should we at all?

Have you ever been in a situation where someone told you to do something, but you didn’t feel right about it? Maybe it was your boss, or teacher at school, a military commander, or parent. We all have those moments when we aren’t too comfortable following a command.

This was the situation Obadiah found himself in when he met Elijah in 1 Kings 18. Obadiah was a Godly man who found himself in the service of King Ahab, evil king. He meets Elijah, who is a prophet of God and a wanted man. Elijah tells him to tell Ahab, that he is there.

Obadiah immediately is afraid for his life. Ahab is an angry and unpredictable man. Obadiah knew this.

But instead of talking back to Elijah, or telling him to tell the king that he’s there himself. He explains his fear. He presents his concerns in a respectful and reasonable way.

There is no rebuke here for Obadiah. Elijah reassures him that it will all be right, and Obadiah will not be in danger.

This is exactly how we should interact with authority. We should not argue. We should not get angry. We should not answer with pride or disrespect.

We should speak humbly. Present our concerns respectfully. And give every impression that we desire to obey.

Next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, remember Obadiah. Remember his respect, and openness. Just because you disagree with authority, doesn’t mean you must have a falling out with them. Sometimes communication and respect is all that is needed to keep good relations!

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” 1 Peter 2:17

 

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Government corruption- it’s here to stay

There is a valuable gem in Ecclesiastes 3, if you read too fast, you will miss it. It says, “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.”

To make it short, in the government, and in the lives of believers- there was sin.

Solomon’s observation isn’t a yin yang idea, it’s about the prevalence of sin in earthly life. In this life, we will never escape sin. It’s not up for debate, no matter how righteous you are, no matter how hard you strive for right living, you will fail. This extends to all areas of your life, and it’s not just limited to you.

Others will fail as well.

This isn’t something we like to ponder, but it’s something we can learn from. If we know that people are flawed just like us, we can expect them to make mistakes. Instead of hating them, or getting angry, we can practice patience- knowing we have just as many flaws.

This applies to people in authority as well. Solomon spoke of sin in the lives of the righteous, but also in places of judgment. The police, the judges, the politicians- all of these will have flaws. They will have sin. They will have wickedness.

Does this mean that we give up on our government and our personal lives? No. But neither do we become endlessly frustrated at the sight of sin. God requires our our patience and perseverance in order to conquer sin in our lives. He also calls us to pray for everyone in authority.

Sin is not acceptable, but knowing that it’s unavoidable can be a comfort to us when we fail. God expects our very best, and that means we never stop the fight against sin in our lives. But God also understands that we are incapable of sinlessness. If we come to Him in humility and repentance, He will never turn us away.

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Psalms 103:14

 

What will they think of me?

Conflict isn’t fun. Most people like to avoid conflict. I like to avoid conflict, but conflict is necessary. There are countless times when a person must stand up for principle. When Christians find themselves in these situations they don’t need to fear. The God of the universe has ordered that they should obey His laws, and He will not punish them for carrying out His orders.

Proverbs 21:2 declares, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” Most people like to think that they are right all the time. I mean, who honestly believes that what they believe is incorrect? If you carry that idea to its logical conclusion it’s only possible with split personalities. But in contrast, God ponders or judges the hearts. The Lord is the one who declares what is right and what is wrong.

The next verse tells us, “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Here we have another profound statement. God isn’t interested in what people offer to Him willy nilly. God accepts their gift, but He isn’t necessarily pleased. God is pleased with those who do right and follow His commands.

When a person doesn’t follow God’s command, such as the the liar and the thief in verses 6 and 7, God tells us that whatever they gain is worthless and their own works will destroy them. God’s laws are very important.

The title of this post is, “What will they think of me?” So going back to the original idea of conflict, are you ever afraid of standing up for what God commands? Have you ever thought, “What will they think of me if I  . . .?” We don’t need to be concerned about the opinions of others. We don’t need to worry about the approval of the people around us. If we work for God’s approval, then He will insure that we receive our proper recompense.

Proverbs 21:1 even tells us, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” God in special control of those people who are in authority. We need not think  about any retaliation that any unjust authority would have for our stand on God’s law.

God is control. He can protect us from their negative reactions, and if He chooses to allow them to “punish” us for taking a righteous stand, then we can know that we will be rewarded for it!

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

Worth your weight, in gold?

Diligence.
It is not a common trait among people today. Our society demands that everything that we do must be fun. People lack the quality of doing hard things for the sake of accomplishing something other than their own gratification. God promises special privileges and rewards for those who are willing to apply themselves to be diligent.

Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
Proverbs 21:5 says, “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.”
Proverbs 12:24 says, “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.”

These verses make it very clear that those who live a diligent life will find both wealth, prosperity, and authority in the world. Diligence isn’t the norm. It’s not something that is often found. It’s hard to find a role model who is attentive to his work. However, if you look hard, you can find them. Study the lives of the most successful people history has ever known, and you will find the history of diligence.

I enjoy looking at the original languages of the Bible. Normally I don’t share, but this time I couldn’t help it. The Hebrew word for diligent means sharp. As if the writers were saying that these people were like a sharp axe when compared to a dull one. When diligent people go to work, they get much more done than when lazy people go to work. When the Hebrew scholars used this word in poetry, it metaphorically meant “gold.” So in a way, diligent people are worth their weight in gold.

If you want to truly succeed in any realm of life, you must be diligent. Yes, your talent may take you far, but only so far. Will you commit yourself to a life of diligence? God promises, wealth, prosperity, honor, and authority to those who will commit themselves to diligence and hard work. Will you be diligent In His service?

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” – Proverbs 22:29

Do you speak good? (Predicate use of ‘good’)

Have you ever been guilty of gossip? Or being a part of a conversation that tears another person down for no reason? We cannot serve in the body of Christ effectively, if we are constantly doing damage to our fellow laborers. Just like an army can’t win if it’s soldiers fight each other. The church will struggle if it’s members insist on fighting over petty things.

A lot of times, someone treats us in a wrong way and we get upset and complain to others about it. We say, "I can’t believe what ____ did to me the other day." Or perhaps a preacher says something that isn’t quite right, or his preaching isn’t that good. Instead of being thankful that we could hear the Word, we can become critical. Instead of striving to fix the problem, we focus on the negative and begin to gossip and backbite. I know I have been guilty of this. Have you?

The Bible speaks of our proper conduct several times. Ephesians 4:29 is a good example. It says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Is your speech ministering grace? Is it edifying?

I would like to challenge you. Examine your speech. Do you speak good things? Or "Do you speak good?" If you are not, you need to change. God has commanded us to speak things that edify or "build up" others. No matter what someone has done to you, it does not outweigh what Christ has done for you. I would encourage you, forgive people. Ask Him to help you speak things that are good for building up those around you, not tearing them down.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." – Ephesians 4:31-32

Is your prayer in vain?

Do you pray in faith? When you ask God to help you with a trial or ask Him to intervene in someone’s life, do you really expect Him to do so? God gives some amazing promises to the person who prays believing, but to those who pray without faith He promises nothing.(James 1:7)

Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Jesus spoke this very simply. It is funny how much it would seem that we can question the Word of God. I know I myself have questioned what God says. God makes this promise as simple as possible. Whatever you desire, ask in faith for, and you will receive it.

Now you may be thinking, "Anything? Really?" Well, not really. We must look at all scripture. James 4:3 tells us, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." God will not give us anything we want just because we want it. We must ask with the purpose of glorifying God.(John 14:13)

I would suggest however, that many times Christians do not receive what they pray for simply because they do not ask God in faith. We must believe what God says if we are to receive what He wants to give us. The Israelites delayed the promise land 40 years because of their doubt. Let us not delay the blessings of God because of our unbelief.

I would like to challenge you. If you have found yourself praying in doubt, ask God to change you. The Lord tells us that we gain faith through listening to His Word, so saturate your life with the Word of God. Also, ask Him to help and empower you to believe His Word. If you find yourself praying simply to fulfill your own lusts, ask God to alter your desires so that they match His. Our prayers can be a powerful tool that God can use, or they can be faithless words spoken in vain. It is our choice.

What will you choose?

"If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." – John 14:14

Further Reading: Luke 11:1-13

Submitting, humbling, and casting

Many times in life we will find ourselves under bad leadership, or what we think is bad leadership. The Bible gives us direct instruction on how we should react to our authority whether it is good or bad.

In 1 Peter 5:5, God gives instruction to the younger people in the church to submit to the older people in the church. The next verse says, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:" God simply says that a person should act with humility. So if your authority is good: be humble! If your authority is bad: be humble! No matter how good your authority is, you should submit and be humble about it.

Well you might say, "They are doing everything wrong!" Or you might give some reason why they are not qualified for the position they are in. Whenever we have someone in authority we do not agree with, we have concerns. God tells us to humble ourselves. That means realize that we might be wrong. But there’s more, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." You see, as we submit to authority, and as we humble ourselves under the hand of God, we are to cast our cares upon Him!

Is there someone in your life that you think shouldn’t be an authority? Do you find yourself questioning their decisions? I would like to challenge you, submit to the God who put them there, humble yourself, and cast your cares upon God. Whatever concerns you have about their "bad" leadership, bring to God. He cares for you. He wants you to succeed. He is in control. All we have to do is submit and cast all our cares upon Him. When we humble ourselves, we will be in a right relationship with God. He even promises to exalt us when the time is right!

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." – James 4:10

Further reading: Romans 13:1-7

One is your master

Have you ever found yourself changing what you are doing in the workplace because the boss walks by? If your behavior changes when authority is around, you are probably not working for God. Christ commands us to do all our work for Him.

"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:" – Colossians 3:22 Do we look to please our boss? Is our goal at work to make him happy? We should have a higher goal than that. Our goal should be to make our master happy. As Matthew 23:8 says, "For one is your Master, even Christ." We should not look to please those around us, but look to please Christ. This means to work hard even when our boss is not looking. This may mean going beyond our job description. This may even mean to go against what the authority asks because of moral reasons.

I would like to challenge you. Look beyond your earthly master. Look to Christ. Your service to your boss or any other authority is simply part of your service to Christ. Are you giving your all in Christ’s service?

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." – Colossians 3:23-24