Sometimes obeying the rules can open doors

You’ve never seen a stranger collection of odds and ends than at a trade show. I have to admit, I’m really eager to go to a trade show in a different industry to see if they’re all the same. Plumbing and heating trade shows are full of truly interesting people, all passionate about their craft and dedicated to a job well done.

I’m in marketing, so we’re all about looks. To be honest, though, not many booths here at AHR really stood out as spectacular. Nothing really wowed me. But what I did notice is the “No Photography” signs. The signs stood out to me, mostly, beause nobody was paying attention. Members of the press, competitors, and other industry professionals were taking photos all over the place, and nobody was stopping them.

It’s one thing to have a rule. It’s something else to enforce it.

You probably realized by now that I was taking photos too, although I wasn’t going into booths and photographing products. I was looking for examples of booth design and particularly catchy headlines. But if the rules are the rules, why weren’t they being enforced? If the rules are the rules, why wasn’t anyone following them? Even I broke the rules because it suited me better than to obey.

GX8A0450Today’s verses are 1 Timothy 3:14-15.

I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

I struggle with my attitude sometimes. I’ve always had a bit of a rebellious streak, and I don’t do a very good job concealing it. Sometimes I do things because I want to do them, rather than because they’re the right thing to do. Sometimes I ignore the rules because the rules are silly–or at least, I think the rules are silly.

And, yes, some rules are ridiculous. But rules are rules. Even though rules may not allow us to do the things we want to do, they exist for a reason.

We used to live in a culture that would respect rules simply because they were there. They didn’t have to be enforced. People had enough character to obey without enforcement. That sort of culture doesn’t really exist anymore. Not in the United States, at least.

I know what some folks are thinking. If the rule is stupid or harmful or ridiculous, why obey it? Because you can trust every rule that’s out there, sort of like you can’t trust the rule makers. The politicians are only out to get more power, and that’s why they make the rules they make. It’s the same with everyone else in authority, generally, isn’t it? The people in power make rules to benefit themselves at the cost of the “little people.”

Maybe that’s a jaded view, but don’t you know people who see life that way? And if you see life from that perspective, it’s easy to understand why our culture bucks the system and breaks the rules.

But what if you can trust the rule maker? What if you can trust the one who’s setting down the law? Wouldn’t you obey their laws if you know it was for your own good?

Sometimes I think we forget how good God is. It’s easy to forget because people are such narrow-minded creatures. We think because God doesn’t give us what we want that He’s not good or that He’s denying us our happiness somehow, and that’s not the case. If God ever withholds something from us, it’s because He has something better planned.

But just because God doesn’t let you have your way right now doesn’t mean He’s good. I mean, think about it. If your parents let you have everything you wanted when you were little, how would you have turned out? If you never had to struggle for anything, if you never had to work for a reward, if you never had to apply yourself, what kind of person would you grown into? Not one I’d enjoy hanging around, I’d wager.

God has rules, and because God is good, God’s rules are good. And He has gone to outrageous lengths to help us know His rules and why they’re important. So don’t fight God’s rules just because they’re rules. Not all rules are bad. And who knows? Maybe obeying a rule will open doors for you that breaking a rule might have shut.

 

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Authority

I often get frustrated with authorities in my life. I’m something of a rebel to begin with but when I end up under the authority of people I don’t exactly respect, I can get myself in trouble really easily (we can talk about my respect issues later). So when I see a verse like today’s verse, I cringe.

Today’s verse is Romans 13:1.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

Yeah.

Ouch.

I’m sure I’ve blogged on this before, but I don’t know when it was. I just know this is a big topic for me. It’s one I struggle with. Because when I don’t feel like the authorities in my life are obeying God, I don’t feel like I need to obey them.

My first loyalty is to God. But that doesn’t mean I don’t obey my authorities on earth just because they don’t do what God tells them to do. According to this verse, the people who are in authority in my life were placed there by God. They were given their authority by God. And this verse doesn’t say that I get to disobey my earthly authorities when they don’t follow God’s example of leadership. This verse says everyone must submit.

So who are my authorities?

Well . . . my boss is definitely my authority. When I was younger, my parents were my authority, although now we have moved more into a role of friendship but I still take their suggestions seriously. Obviously, the president and any of our elected representatives are our authorities.

This verse is a big deal. It’s hard to remember, though, when you can see the people in your life who have the power to control you making decisions that you know don’t please God. But that doesn’t give us the right not to obey.

The only time we have the right to disobey our authorities is if they tell us to do something that is directly contrary to the Bible. Everything else — taxes, speed limits, etc. — we have to obey the ruling of our authorities.

But there is something we can do about it. Maybe you’re a protester type who likes to march around with signs and think up clever rhymes. If so, that’s great. Maybe you’re the type who likes to write letters. That’s great too. But the Bible tells us to do something specifically for our authorities. I don’t remember the reference, but as believers we are commanded to pray for our authorities.

I get really frustrated with them, certain ones in particular, but it’s not my job to be frustrated with them. It’s my job to pray for them. And it’s God’s job to work everything out.

Pay your taxes.

I’ll be brief this morning, mainly because the verse is so straightforward. It’s verses like this that make me love the Bible. Yes, the Bible is full of deep wisdom and mind-bending truths, but it’s also full of practical advice and instruction for living.

I love it.

Romans 13:6-7

6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

It’s also very funny becuase today is tax day . . . April 15. Or did they move it back? I can’t remember. In any case, that’s probably why this is the verse for today.

In either case, I know I tend to gripe about paying my taxes because they just seem to keep going up and up. But taxes are a part of life, and you will have to pay taxes no matter where you live. And I can tell you that no matter how high my taxes have gotten, God has always provided for me financially so I have still had everything I needed and most everything I wanted.

The set of verses before this one are talking about submitting to authorities. The whole of Romans 13 is really good. If you have a chance to read it, I’d really recommend it.

Basically, the reasons mentioned in verse 6 are stated pretty simply: “All authority comes from God.” Period. It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with your authorities. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t vote for them. It doesn’t matter what your opinion is. If they are in authority over you, God appointed them.  So by rebelling against who God has put in authority is the same as rebelling against God’s plan.

Don’t you think that God can use anyone, no matter who they are? Or do you think it was an accident certain people were elected?

The government we have right now isn’t perfect. No, it’s not even close to perfect. But the people who are in authority over us have been put there because that’s what God wanted. So not matter how much I disagree with them, I still need to respect them. I do struggle with this, though. It’s very hard to say good things about people you don’t think highly of.

So pay your taxes.

It’s the right thing to do.

And realize that all authority comes from God. And if the people who are in authority over us make poor decisions and lead us wrong, it’s not us that they will answer to in the end.