Points to Ponder: Should You Do It "The Way It's Done"?
Points to Ponder
Should You Do It "The Way It's Done"?
During the Watergate scandal of the 1970's, I watched the investigative committee's hearings on television. "I do not recall..." was a frequently given answer by members of the Nixon administration who were being questioned. The whole thing angered me greatly. I was a young teenager watching people of privilege, and eventually President Nixon himself, lie about what went on. I thought to myself that out of the 250 million citizens of the United States, these few had been given the privilege to lead our nation and make a positive difference. For what did they squander their God-given opportunity? God-given?
"...the authorities that exist are appointed by God... For he is God's minister to you for good... For because of this you pay taxes, for they are God's ministers..." (Romans 13:1b, 4a, 6a).
It was a study of the holiness code in the Old Testament book of Leviticus that got me thinking about this. We see it more obviously in our political leaders because they are in the news almost daily. We see men and women in positions of power and privilege, and usually well-compensated for it, who pour their energy into keeping their positions of power and privilege; or running for the next level of it. The sound bites, the mis-characterizations of their opponents, the exaggerations about their own virtues; on and on it goes. This goes on in the business world and in the church as well. Wherever there are people, the ones with the power and privileges tend to follow some strategy rather than higher principles. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of this fact as he warned his morally declining nation of the ruinous path they had chosen. Exile and destruction of the Temple, the Kingship, and Jerusalem itself was coming.
"An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?" (Jeremiah 5:30-31).
Do any of us ever imagine a day when the United States will cease to be the Superpower? Is it possible, as it had happened to the once powerful nations of Israel and Judah, that the U.S.A. will cease to be? The citizens of those nations didn't think it possible either. That's why they persecuted and killed the prophets God had sent to warn them.
Again, I go back to the holiness code in Leviticus. These basic verses, to me, sum up the attitude, which God's people must have in whatever position of influence they occupy. Why do we think it's acceptable ("the way it's done") to compromise in our ethics, business dealings, or in standing for what's right regardless of the price?
"You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." (Leviticus 19:35-36)
The key principle is universally applicable to every person who trusts in the Lord. God says here, you can and you must live according to a higher standard of honesty and integrity. Four times in one verse "honesty" is emphasized. To be a man or woman of God, you do not need to be dishonest in order to succeed - at anything. You can "be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23b). Just count for yourself the names of the prominent people in politics, business, church, and professional sports who have fallen or are on their way down because they pursued their success dishonestly. Shortcuts to perceived profits, privilege, or position can be tempting; however, there is a key principle for why we must regard the world's way of doing things as off-limits to us. God signs His name to this standard: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 19:36).
The land of Egypt symbolizes bondage, slavery. The Israelites of that day were miraculously delivered from physical slavery. Today, we can be enslaved by other things and in many ways. The basic bondage into which we are all born is sin. That condition can and does lead to a number of other chains that can ensnare us (habits, addictions, a painful past, etc.). And if we know the Lord and He has redeemed us from our slavery, we know that our freedom is in Him.
"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'" (John 8:31-32).
The true freedom we have allows us - and in fact empowers us - to live the higher standard. Those who make the real differences in life are those who are different. They dare to be. As Jesus plainly says,
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:24-25)
Profit... gains... destroyed... lost: these don't add up, do they? There is a reason why the "way which leads to life" is narrow and difficult to find (Matthew 7:13-14). "The way things are done" is not God's way, even though the people love to have it so.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com.