2008-08-13 / Religion

'Stay Near The Source'


(Pastor James Scarborough, Donalsonville Assembly of God)

While in a training session last week, I heard an interesting quote: "Being close to the source of authority usually improves our behavior." The teacher in the video presentation referred to blue lights ahead when we are driving as an example, as he reminded those of us listening that when we know the state patrol is working in the area it usually has a big impact on our driving; even if we were not breaking the law before we became aware of the patrol's presence, after we realize his nearness, we usually begin to check our speed and perhaps double check our seatbelts.

The quote I gave above was given in the context of maintaining classroom control in the public school setting, but I think the idea applies spiritually too. Just as the presence of a teacher or school administrator usually improves the behavior of students, so our awareness of the nearness of God should have an impact on how we live. (Admittedly, there are students, as any teacher will attest, who seem unconcerned and unaffected in their behavior no matter what representative of authority might be present. But in general, I agree that the nearness of a source of authority does have a great impact on people's behavior.)

I am convinced that the closer we live to God, the more like Him we will want to become and the more we will want to live life styles that honor Him. The New Testament instructs us fittingly with these words: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:7-8, NIV).

There is no doubt that it is to our benefit to always stay close to our eternal spiritual Source of authority.

It is too easy for us to forget that God is everywhere present at all times and He knows every act that we commit. Yet our sin corrupted human nature lets us try to hide behind the fallacy that we can get away with secret sins unnoticed. We should allow these words of David to burn into our hearts afresh the truth of the all-knowing presence of God: "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar" (Psalm 139:1-2, NIV). The source of authority cannot get any closer than that!

A key reason that we put on our best behavior in the presence of the authorities is to avoid paying a penalty for violating the law. That is a reasonable approach, but we should also want to abide by the law simply because it is the right thing to do regardless of who is or is not watching. That is the kind of attitude God wants us to have toward Him--striving, with His help, to live righteously because we love Him, and are not merely trying to escape punishment. And if we genuinely love Him, we will desire to do what is right in His sight at all times.

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