Lesson 5: Obeying God's Delegated Authorities
In our last lesson we learned that there are two ways by which people live their lives —
(1) the way of rebellion and (2) the way of obedience.
The way of rebellion
This is Satan's way. When a person says in his heart, "I don't care what God says; I will do what I want to do," he is living his life by the way of rebellion.
The way of obedience
This is Christ's way. When a person says in his heart, "I want to do what God wants me to do," he is living his life by the way of obedience.
God's Delegated Authorities
We know that God has all authority. He has the right to rule and He has the right to be obeyed. One way God directs us is by the people He puts over us.
When God puts someone over us, that person is called God's delegated authority. This means that this person represents God's authority. Since this person represents God's authority, he or she must be obeyed.
Some examples of people who are God's delegated authorities are: Parents, School Teachers, School Principals, Police Officers.
We must not only obey God, but we must also obey God's delegated authorities — the people God puts over us. The Bible says, "Obey them that have the rule over you." Hebrews 13:17
If we are not obeying the people God puts over us, we are not obeying God. To disobey someone who represents God's authority is like disobeying God Himself. To be disrespectful to someone who represents God's authority is like being disrespectful to God Himself.
Let us consider some examples of God's delegated authorities.
God's Delegated Authority in the Home
God's plan for the family is that the father is the head of the family under God. The father is responsible to God for his family and he is to be under God's authority at all times. The wife is to be under the authority of her husband. The Bible says, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Ephesians 5:22
This means that wives are to obey their own husbands just as they would obey God Himself because the husband is God's delegated authority in the home.
Children are to be under the authority of both parents. The father and mother represent God's authority in the home, and it is right that the children should obey them. To disobey your parents is like disobeying God. To be disrespectful to your parents is like being disrespectful to God Himself. The Bible says, "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." Colossians 3:20
When your parents set limits on you and tell you not to do something, it is because they love you. It is spelled C-A-R-I-N-G.
Sometimes a child goes to one parent and asks to do something. When that parent says, "No," the child then goes to the other parent and asks the same thing. This is wrong. A child should not try to set one parent against the other.
The relationship between children and their parents is so important that God made it the subject of the Fifth Commandment. In this commandment God promises a good life and a long life to children who honor their parents. The Bible says,
"Honor your father and your mother; that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you." Exodus 20:12
The word "honor" means to respect and obey. Children are to respect and obey their parents. The Bible says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right."
Many times children and young people do not want to obey their parents. They would like to change God's Word to excuse their disobedience. They would like the verse to say,
"Children, obey your parents . . .
If you think they are right.
If it is what you want to do.
If they ask you nicely in a way that pleases you."
But God's Word does not say this. It says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right."
If you really want to obey God, you will not use any of these excuses. Instead you will say,
"I will obey my parents because God says that it is right for me to obey them."
NOTE: There are certain situations in which a family member or relative may tell a child to do something that is against God's commandments, such as lying or stealing or engaging in some sexual act. If this happens, the child should not obey the person but say, "I am sorry but God does not want me to do that." As quickly as possible, the child should talk to an adult whom he or she can trust and tell them about this.
God's delegated authorities in school
In your school God's delegated authority is the principal. Since the principal represents God's authority in the school, he or she is to be respected and obeyed.
In the classroom the teacher represents God's authority. Because this is true, the teacher is to be respected and obeyed. To disobey your teacher is like disobeying God. To be disrespectful to your teacher is like being disrespectful to God.
You may say, "But suppose I don't like my teacher. Do I still have to obey her?"
Yes, you do. Your teacher is in a position of authority over you and you must obey your teacher, whether or not you like that teacher. The Bible says, "Obey them that have the rule over you." Hebrews 13:17
This means that we are to obey the people God places over us. You may or may not like a certain teacher, but that does not affect that teacher's position as God's delegated authority over you. You cannot say, "My teacher told me to do something, but I didn't do it because I don't like her."
In the classroom, the teacher is God's delegated authority.
If you really want to please the Lord, you will study hard, and try to do your best in your schoolwork. The Lord Jesus wants you to do your work as though He Himself were your teacher! The Bible says, "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." Colossians 3:23
Other delegated authorities
We are to obey police officers because they represent God's authority. The Bible says, "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates (police officers)." Titus 3:1
Later, you will have a job and your "boss" will represent God's authority in the place where you work. Since he represents God's authority, you are to obey your boss and do your work well. Remember, there is one situation in which you are not to obey the person who is over you. That situation is one in which someone tells you to do something wrong — something that is against God's commandments.
For example, if someone over you tells you to lie or to steal, you should not do it because these things are against God's commandments. Anytime anyone tells you to do something that is against God's commandments, you should not do it.
God wants us to learn to obey
It is very important that you learn to obey the people whom God puts over you. These people represent God's authority. The way you treat them is the way you treat God.
(A story series written by Edna Menzies.)
It was not until the next morning, just before the regular Bible lesson, that Brian and Randy were able to tell Wendy and Susan what had happened. They had been looking for each other and had finally met in one corner of the main building. A number of the boys and girls had already gathered around the piano near the front and were singing some of the camp songs.
"We didn't get to see Mr. Douglas," Brian said in a low voice as the girls joined them. "We asked Mr. Kenneth if he knew where Mr. Douglas was, and he told us that Mr. Douglas had been called away on an important matter and would not get back until just before the meeting this morning."
"So that was why we didn't see him here last night," Wendy said. "We were worried because we didn't see him or you. Where were you?"
"Well, when we couldn't find Mr. Douglas, we went ahead and told Mr. Kenneth all about everything. He looked real serious and said he would tell Mr. Douglas the first chance he got this morning. He told us that the old man is Mr. O'Patrick, and they have never had any trouble with him before. Guess he often has been allowed to come and play his violin for the kids. Mr. Kenneth asked us so many questions that we were late for the meeting and sat way back in the corner. That's why you didn't see us," Brian finished.
"Oh," Susan said. "Did they take points off for being late?"
"No," Randy answered with a grin. "Mr. Kenneth told them that we were talking with him, and not to dock us, so they didn't."
"I hope Mr. Douglas won't want to see us right after the Bible lesson," Brian said a bit anxiously. "It will cut into our craft period, and I need every minute I can get to finish my wallet. You should see it, Wendy, I'm making it for Daddy, and I think he will like it."
"Like it!" Randy exclaimed. "I should say he will like it. It's great! None of the rest of us have a chance for the craft prize, I can tell you that."
Wendy's eyes were sparkling as she said, "I'm so glad, Brian. And I think it will make Daddy happy even if you don't win a prize." Then remembering her father's unhappy face, she added softly to Brian, "And Daddy needs something to make him happy, you know he does."
Just then the bell rang, and as the other two moved away, Brian said to Wendy, "Listen Wendy. I'm putting the words God loves you on the back of the wallet. Do you think that will help Daddy?"
"Oh yes," Wendy answered. "And I'm making a jewelry box for Mother. Maybe I could write out a Bible verse and put it in the box."
"Good idea," Brian agreed as they joined the others, and the meeting began.
Later that morning, during craft time, Miss Marion came over to where Wendy and Susan were busily working. "Girls," she said, "we are out of white thread. I know you hate to miss any of your craft time, but I would be grateful if you would run to the store for me."
"Sure, Miss Marion," Wendy and Susan answered, putting down their work and standing up. "Is it that little store just down a piece from the gate?" Wendy asked.
"Yes, that's it. I'll give you a note to the man who owns the store, and he will give you the thread. If you hurry, it will take just a few minutes."
The girls started off on a run. They sped out the gate and down the road to the store. They stopped at the partly-opened door to catch their breath and were startled to hear someone inside the store mention Camp Good Hope.
"Yes," a man's voice was saying, "we started missing things the day that camp opened. Children's beads and pens and comic books and things like that. And the man who runs a little store down at the crossroads told me he was having the same trouble. Funny thing though," the voice went on, "we don't have very many kids coming in here from the camp. But believe me, we are sure keeping our eyes on those who do."
Wendy and Susan stared at each other, their eyes round with fright. "Let's go back," Susan whispered.
Wendy grabbed Susan's arm. "We can't! We're not going to steal anything. Come on!" Setting her chin firmly, Wendy pushed the half-opened door wide and led the way into the store.
Just then a group of older boys brushed past them and headed toward the man behind the counter. Wendy looked toward the side counter and saw a pleasant lady there. The lady finished waiting on a customer and then hurried to Wendy and asked what she wanted. Wendy silently handed her the note and, although the woman glanced at them keenly, she didn't say anything. She gave them the thread, and with a quick "thank you" Wendy and Susan hurried out of the store.
The girls ran all the way back to the craft room without speaking. At the door Wendy said, "We only have a few more minutes of crafts, and then we'll go and tell Mr. Douglas. Okay?" Susan nodded as they went into the craft room and gave Miss Marion the thread.
As soon as their craft period was over, Wendy and Susan hurried to Mr. Douglas's cabin and knocked on the door. Mr. Douglas opened the door and led them into the room. The girls were surprised to see Brian and Randy and Mr. Kenneth there. Mr. Douglas smiled kindly at the two girls. "I can tell by your flushed cheeks and bright eyes that you have something exciting to tell me," he said. "But do you think you could talk to my wife in the other room while we finish our serious discussion with these young fellows here?"
"But it's about the same thing," Wendy blurted out. "We were sent over to the store by Miss Marion and the man there said he started missing things like beads and comic books and pens the day camp started. He is keeping watch on all the kids from camp 'cause he thinks we are doing the stealing."
Mr. Douglas's face took on a troubled look. "Did you know about this before?" he asked.
"Yes," Brian put in. "Wendy is my sister and that's her friend Susan. They know all about Biff and Pete and everything."
When Mr. Douglas heard that, he asked the girls to sit down and tell him everything they had heard. He asked a number of questions. Then he sighed heavily as he rose to his feet. "I'm very sorry about all this," he told the children. "But we are thankful you told us before it went on any longer. Please don't say anything to the other campers about it. We will attend to everything this afternoon and make an announcement tonight so that all this business will come to an end."
After thanking them again, he told them they could go. Once outside, Brian exclaimed, "Say! you girls sure came just at the right moment."
"Why?" Susan asked. "Didn't Mr. Douglas believe you?"
"Oh, yes, he believed us all right," Randy put in. "But he has known Mr. O'Patrick for quite awhile, and he thought that Mr. O'Patrick must be buying the things up cheaply and trying to make a little bit of money out of the campers. He didn't think that anything as bad as stealing was going on."
Brian didn't look at the others as he said, "Guess this will finish me with Pete. He will think all Christians are tattle-tales, and he won't even want to be my buddy anymore."
Wendy could tell by Brian's voice that he was feeling all chokey inside. "We'll all pray for Pete," she said. "We'll pray real hard. The Lord Jesus can change Pete before camp is over."
"Sure," Randy encouraged. "We have three full days yet before we have to go home. A whole lot could happen in that time."
That evening when Mr. Douglas stood up to talk to them, there was a sudden hush as he said, "I have something very sad to tell you tonight." Then he went ahead and told them that the old man who had played the violin for them had been guilty of stealing some things and selling them to two of the boys at the camp. But since the boys did not know the things were stolen, they would only be punished for going off bounds. The boys admitted that they had waited till no one else was around, and then left the grounds. They secretly received the things from Mr. O'Patrick. Then they sold them to their camp companions. The very fact that the boys did it secretly showed that they knew they were doing wrong. The boys would be punished by not being allowed to go swimming for the remainder of the camp.
"Because this is Mr. O'Patrick's first offense and since he is an old man, the police have asked him only to pay for the things he has stolen. Mr. O'Patrick has paid for them, and the storekeepers have agreed not to press charges. They told me that you children may keep the things you have bought. I hope you will all pray for Mr. O'Patrick. We would like to see him take the Lord as his Savior." Mr. Douglas paused for a minute, then he said. "Does anyone here have anything to say about all this?"
The room was very still as Mr. Douglas waited. Then Joey jumped up and said, "I'm sorry that I bought some of those comics. They weren't the funny kind. They were the kind that give you bad thoughts in your mind. And— and— after I read them l didn't feel like reading my Bible. I threw them in the fire today. l don't want to read that kind any more 'cause our golden verse tells us to do the things that will please Jesus. And I just know the Lord Jesus wouldn't read that stuff."
"You have made a wise decision, Joey," Mr. Douglas commended him. "Stick to it."
Just then Cheryl stood up and said in a trembly voice, "I bought some beads with the money my daddy gave me for the Sunday offering. And I'm— I'm— sorry." She began to sob as she sat down. Miss Ardill went over and put an arm around her.
Mr. Douglas cleared his throat as he said, "Sin has far-reaching effects, boys and girls. It is not something we can play with." Then he talked to them quietly about how a seemingly little sin can grow and spread until many, many people are harmed by it.
After Mr. Douglas had finished speaking to them, a number of boys and girls stayed behind to talk to their counsellors. The rest went to their cabins and settled down more quickly than usual.
It wasn't until the next afternoon that Wendy had a chance to talk to Brian. He came running toward her, his face white and full of misery. "Wendy," he whispered, "my wallet is ruined. Completely ruined."
A sick, numb feeling filled Wendy's heart as she looked at her brother. "Oh, Brian, what happened?" she asked, "Did you cut it by mistake?"
"Me cut it?" he almost yelled. "I didn't do it. It was fine when I put it away yesterday. But today when we went to crafts, I found that someone had cut it. It's all jagged around the edge. It's a mess! And I'm sure it was Pete who did it, because I can tell he is still mad at me. 'Love your buddy.' Huh! Who could love a buddy that would do a thing like that?"
That night Wendy found it hard to go to sleep. Brian had told her that Mr. Kenneth had promised to help fix the wallet during their next craft period. But Brian had not been very hopeful about it. And he was still angry at Pete.
Wendy sighed and tried to get her mind on happier thoughts. If only she could win that prize Bible, how pleased Granny would be. One of the counsellors had told Wendy and Susan that five girls were at the top of the list as far as points were concerned and Wendy and Susan were two of them. But they could not all win the Bible.