It pleases the Lord when we submit to the authorities in our lives. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors as sent by him…” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Submission is an attitude that yields the right-of-way to person in authority over you. When you come to an intersection at the same time as another car, you yield to the car on your right, which means you let that vehicle has its way. The Lord wants us to both humble ourselves and submit ourselves to our government rulers, spiritual leaders, and employers.
But what are we to do if an authority tells us to do something that’s wrong and contradicts God’s Word? In those cases, this is where we use the “exception rule” where we submit to the higher authority—the Lord. When the high priest told Peter and the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus, they responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Instead of angrily rebelling against him, they chose to humbly submit to their higher authority. Whenever we encounter situations where two authorities are in conflict, we should yield to the highest one without despising the lower one.
I once drove up to an intersection where an accident had occurred. A policeman stood in the intersection directing traffic. Although the traffic light was red, the policeman waved for me to drive through the red light. Which authority should I obey—the traffic light or the policeman? In that instance, the traffic cop was a higher authority than the traffic light. I submitted to the higher authority. I didn’t rebel against all traffic lights from then on. I respected both, but I couldn’t obey both at the same time.
Suppose you’re at your job and the assistant manager tells you to move a display to a certain location. A few minutes later, the manager tells you to move it to a different place. Which one should you obey? You need to obey the manager because he’s the higher authority.
Always cheerfully obey the authorities in your life, but remember the Lord is your highest authority. In the rare case when you must use the exception rule, don’t get angry and rebel against your boss. Keep a good attitude and humbly submit to your highest authority.
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