Slow Down and Smell the Roses

Romans 13:1-7

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

 

   So one of the things I like to do now is go camping with my family. It is a great time with them and close friends, you meet new people, and it is very relaxing. It has also turned into a ministry in that on Sunday mornings; we will hold a worship service for the campers at our site. We’ll sing songs, and I give a devotional that I open up for questions and others thoughts on afterwards. Well, about a month ago, we went to one of our favorite parks and Sunday morning came and we held our service. One of the camp hosts and his wife joined us. My message that morning was on how the world sees us (Christians) and how that we have to be different from the rest of the world in the things we say, do, and how we act. At the end of it, this gentleman opened up about a Sunday school teacher at his church. He told us about how everybody had been talking about what a change had come over this man and he was truly walking with Christ. This man said he really enjoyed sitting in his class and noticed the change. Well, it so happened that one weekend, the Sunday school teacher had gone deep sea fishing. When he came back he was showing everybody his catch. Amongst all the fish that were in there, were some shrimp too. No big deal? Well, the shrimp were out of season….no big deal still to some of you out there, I mean, he didn’t get caught…..by the Rangers anyway.

 

   See, this camp host immediately lost all respect for this man. This person had represented himself to be of Christ, yet blatantly did something against the law…..and he knew he did, it wasn’t that he was ignorant of when the season was. Now the camp host didn’t ever want to be in his class again. How devastating to lose your testimony over some shrimp! But what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong, no matter how we try to justify it. If we as Christians see this type of thing, don’t you know the outside world is watching and laughing when we are just like them? How are we to be a light for the world when we keep turning the switch off? So I know you might be thinking how small of a deal this seems, it was after all, just 7 shrimp, but take a minute and read the above verses again. Paul is telling us that the governments and powers that be are in place for our own protection. We are to be submissive to them and obey the rules that are in place even if they seem petty to us. Now, if those governments ask us to do things contrary to God, then we must obey God above them as we see Peter and the Apostles state here….

 

Acts 5:27-29

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.

29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

 

 

   So reflect for a minute about these shrimp…and other things that in your life you take for granted to disobey that are rules and laws. When you read the passage in Romans, it quickly reveals that you are not just “getting by” against the government, police, etc….you are sinning against God because He allows these governments to be in place!! So….it got worse for me.

 

   As I sat there agreeing with this man about his case, I said as I often do that we have to be different, we have to rise above everybody else, and be different. Then came a left hook I never saw coming and it was hard to keep my composure, because I knew, that out of the message I gave to these folks this day…God was sending me a message too. The gentleman then added, “It’s no different than when you go over the speed limit, you are breaking the law, thus sinning, and putting on a bad display for people watching you.” OUCH!!!!!!!!!!! Man that hurt, but it was and is completely true. I was one of those that justified it by saying that the police give you 10mph over the speed limit so it was okay. Well, think about that. They give you that before giving a ticket due to differences in speedometers. The posted speed limit is just that…if it says 35, it is 35. If they wanted you to go 42, the sign would say 42, but it doesn’t! If you are in a 35mph zone, when your speedometer reads 35mph, you should go no faster. When you do, just as I did, we sin against God. So, I had to drive home a little later, and I made a conscious effort to remain at the speed limit. No matter how slow it felt, no mater how long of a line came up on me, I remained there. I knew if I could make it all the way home on that 1-1/2 hour trip, I had it licked. And, with God’s help I did, and I have never looked back. And the funny thing is, many people that zipped past me, got caught at red lights and I was right back with them. I even get better gas mileage! Most important, I have removed an area of sin from my life.

 

   Now, when I look in my rear view mirror, I see people with disgusted looks on their faces, fussing at me to go faster, beating on their dashboard or steering wheel, tailgating me, flashing their lights at me for me to speed up, and so forth. It is a sad glimpse into the person that I was until God corrected me, and I submitted to Him. Some of these people that whip around me mad as a hornet, as they go by, I notice the “Fish” symbol, or a Cross, or “Jesus loves You” on their back window or bumper. And to an outsider, one who is not Christian, it saddens me to think, that when they get treated like this from the body of Christ, and see the “Jesus loves you” sign afterwards, it’s no wonder they say, “Yeah right”. I can tell you this because I was one of those people doing the same thing you are. I thought it was so insignificant too. We all have room to grow, every one of us, and what I want you to take from this outside of the message, is that I too, have room to grow. But I praise God for pointing it out. I willingly submit because I want to further His Kingdom and not be a hindrance. So much reflection into the things we do that are affected by this teaching, if we will each hear what God is telling us on it, and act on it, we can make that light shine brighter instead of turning the switch off.

 

In His Grace,

            Mike Harris



 

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