ODJ: Higher Law, Higher Love

June 21, 2016 

READ: 1 Samuel 19:1-7 

We must obey God rather than any human authority (Acts 5:29).

A precocious school pupil asked a soldier visiting her class what he would do if he were ordered to do something wrong. Then she made it personal. “What if they told you to shoot innocent people?” As the teacher held her breath and the students sat on the edge of their seats, the soldier calmly replied, “I’m duty-bound to obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me. And I’m just as duty-bound to disobey an unlawful order.” That serviceman understood the principle of a higher authority.

Long ago, King Saul grew envious of the young warrior David, so he instructed his servants and his son Jonathan to kill him. Jonathan wisely defied his father’s directive and got David out of harm’s way (1 Samuel 19:1-3). And “the next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him” (v.4). Saul relented—at least for a while (v.6).

Few of us will encounter such an extreme situation, but we all face times when we’re asked to ignore our conscience and God’s instruction. The disciple Peter’s counsel to the authorities who arrested him shows us the courage we need. “We must obey God rather than human authority. ...God put [Jesus] in the place of honour at his right hand as Prince and Saviour,” Peter said, despite the fact that the council wanted to kill him (Acts 5:29,31,33).

Making the right choice might cost us very little, or it may cost us a lot. Some have even given their lives defying evil. Whatever we face, the scriptural pattern for us remains clear: show respect, make a reasoned argument and follow God— our ultimate authority. May we depend on Him and His power as we seek to do what’s right today.

—Tim Gustafson

365-day plan: John 4:1-42

In the Acts 5:17-41 account that reveals Peter and John’s courage, who was the unlikely voice of reason? (see especially vv.33-40). 
What choice of conscience faces you today? What response will truly honour God?