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It was really cool,” Sammy was telling his friends as they waited for the second bell to ring. “We climbed all the way down to the bottom of the dam and fished and explored the whole area.”Add Comment
“But I thought you said the sign at the top of the hill said not to go beyond this point,” Connor said, looking bewildered.
“No one caught us,” Sammy said, shrugging as he continued his tale of adventure. Connor’s befuddled face revealed his confusion. How could Sammy—such a strong Christian who always attended church and youth meetings and was constantly persuading Connor, a new Christian, to be as faithful as he was—purposefully disobey a posted sign? Trespassing was against the law. Why would Sammy do it, and do it so nonchalantly? It didn’t make sense to Connor, at all, who then began to wonder if this Christian thing was as real as Sammy proclaimed.
Do you realize what your behavior says about you? Did you ever wonder what others think of you as a Christian? This true story points out how a simple disregard for a sign of authority could shake the faith of someone else. It could also undermine our own walk with God.
Our society sometimes teaches that lying isn’t bad if it covers up a wrong; or that cheating on a test is OK if you don’t get caught and it helps your grade average; or that being loyal to others isn’t as important as getting what you want; or that being respectful to your parents and teachers is unimportant because they are just as wrong as anyone else; or that following the rules is crucial but only if it benefits you, and breaking “unnecessary ones” is OK so long as you don’t get caught; and finally, that right and wrong are whatever you believe them to be.
But God’s Word is clear: “Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die” (Proverbs 19:16).*
We do not need to be a mindlessly rigid “Goody Two-shoes” or someone who is afraid to take a step unless all of the possible authorities are questioned and approval is given. However, as people who walk with God, we do need to do what is right because it is right, and because it honors Him. We need to follow authority because God commanded it. “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience” (Romans 13:5). Notice, Scripture says to obey authorities not just to avoid getting into trouble but to keep a clear conscience as well.
Sarah was so worried about passing the history test that she lay awake at night, her mind in a constant state of panic. If she didn’t do well, her GPA would be affected, and her parents would ground her. But with all of her other obligations—basketball practices, tutoring after school at the youth center, church youth activities, the Spanish club service project, and her massive English paper—she didn’t have time to study. She felt she had no choice. Sarah climbed out of bed, turned on the light, and made a cheat sheet.
Although she felt like the whole world was watching, Sarah didn’t get caught. All day, all night, and all the next two days she felt as if everyone were looking at and talking about her. She thought everyone must have known. How could anyone not know? she wondered.
But when Mrs. Garcia handed back the test, Sarah saw the grade of 97 and the words “Well done, Sarah!” written in bright-red letters. Instead of euphoria, though, Sarah felt as if she was suffocating in guilt. How could she accept this grade when she had cheated? No one would ever know—but Sarah would. Sarah would always know. And that was worse than being caught, because she had to face herself; every day she had to look in the mirror and see the cheater.
God wants us to live right (with His help, of course), not just so that we can be good Christians, but so that we can be right people and along with that avoid the pitfalls that are out there in this world. The world teaches that little white lies, a slight bending of the rules, doing whatever you want (so long as you don’t get caught), are OK. But morals are being tarnished, lives destroyed, and people broken. Adults cheat on their spouses, lie about what their companies are doing, break traffic laws, and, as the headlines have proclaimed, steal income and livelihoods from innocent employees and workers.
What does that have to do with you? You are only a kid, right?
Do you think these people who have destroyed lives started doing so as adults? Maybe. But isn’t it more likely that, as kids, they bent the rules, lied, or cheated? People who lie and cheat as children and teenagers are more likely to do so as adults. People who strive to do the right thing, even as kids, and especially when it’s not easy, will be much more likely to do right as adults.
Doing the right thing may not look like winning in the world’s view, but in God’s view it is everything—now and for eternity. Not to mention how doing the right thing can impact those around us.
Just ask Connor.
*Scripture quotations in this article are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Brenda Morrow writes from Texas.
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