Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
Do those who are in authority over me feel glad that I am in their lives? Is my pastor pleased that I am in his church? Is my spouse happy that I am married to him? Have my employers been grateful that I’ve worked for their company? Hopefully, the collective answer is yes. But if ‘yes’, then why?
It might be because I like and respect them. It’s easier to defer under those conditions. Oh, but when they are foolish, it is instinctive to be contentious and confrontational. I get my back up and resent my duty to submit. I might even find ways to circumvent their orders.
I recall that the Apostle Paul instructed slaves to be good slaves to their masters. He didn’t tell them to defer only if their masters deserved their allegiance. In light of this consistent biblical precedent, this scripture from Hebrews highlights some interesting side notes.
- We are to obey those who have rule over us. (But, obeying God takes precedence if we are told to do something God would forbid.)
- The ones who have authority over us watch for our souls. (Some watch over us well while others give no thought to our well being.)
- Each one in leadership will give an account. Those who lead well will be rewarded. Those who cause their people to suffer will not get away with it. (Our part is to obey God and leave the outcome to Him.)
While talking with a woman recently about her marriage, she shared that her husband is a poor spiritual leader in their home. She made the comment, “It’s hard to show respect to someone ungodly, one who does not consider me to be a person of any value!” Most likely, we will all know what this is like sometime in our lives; to be invisible, despised, unappreciated, to be held in low regard. These are the very things that make it hard to submit to bad authority. If I am struggling today, I have to remember that the person with whom I struggle is under God’s authority. He may not acknowledge it but he is. He, or she, will give an account of how they failed to represent God.
And, I am under God’s authority. I am His child and I am under His umbrella. I know where to go home to heal from the wounds of injustice and the abuses of poor shepherding. I heal in the embrace of the One who owns me and calls me precious. He leads me and He serves me. There is nothing He has not already experienced. I am safe and I am of infinite value.
I choose to live above my feelings and, by faith, obey Your order of things. I am yours and that joy is enough. Amen