The Ten Commandments are a wellspring of insight, if you are willing to look a little closer. There were two tablets of the law. The first dealt with our relationship to God and the second with our relationship to each other. Each and every one of the Ten Commandments has a practical application for all of us in our everyday life.
In the previous blog, we looked into the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Today, I want to look at the second commandment, “You shall not make unto yourself any graven images, to worship or serve.” This guards the legitimate position of authority.
Created For Authority
You see, we were created to be in authority over some things, while being under the authority of God. This is an important boundary. However, if man is left to define God’s boundaries by making a graven image of their idea of Him, man has taken for himself that which God reserves exclusively for Him.
We do not have the authority to define God according to our imagination. But man has been doing this for thousands of years anyway. Whether it was the golden calf in Moses day or the totem poles in Western Canada, man has always sought to define God according to their terms. When you make an image of God, you set boundaries for Him. That puts you in authority and in effect, makes you God.
We are definitely not God. I checked.
If we don’t recognize God as the Supreme Authority to whom we are all individually ultimately accountable, that means we are setting ourselves up as the one with absolute authority. But absolute authority corrupts absolutely.
So in order for the chain of authority to work properly, we must recognize what it is that God has given us authority over, and we also must submit to the authority over us that is derived from God. When those in authority overstep their legitimate boundaries, they no longer have Godly authority, although they may have enforcement power. We have every right to resist usurpation of overreaching authority.
The colonies in America were set aflame in the 1700’s by preachers like Samuel West who preached sermons like “On the Right to Rebel” using Romans 13 as his text. When you don’t understand the legitimate boundaries of authority, you will either abuse it or be abused by it.
Let me make it simple.
I have authority over my children, but not over yours, unless they are under my care and you have transferred authority to me. When I hear your kids making too much noise in your house, I can’t go over there and discipline them. That is your job. If they are in my house, they will be under my authority or they won’t be there. I won’t take responsibility for your kids without having authority. Neither should you.
God instituted authority structures and we need authority for a well ordered society, but it works best when each level of authority stays in their lane so to speak and doesn’t use their legitimate authority to obtain what is not theirs to obtain.
You know what’s really funny about people…
They resist God given authority but willingly give authority to others who themselves do not recognize God’s authority in their lives. You see it all the time. A kid plays a stowaway on a big boat that sinks (Titanic) and suddenly he’s an authority on the environment, global warming (or is it cooling), politics, etc. And many there be who accept his “authority” which was derived from his adoring fans, and nowhere else.
Turning my attention to the marketplace for a moment. Business owners have legitimate authority and employees have legitimate delegated authority. When you understand that, you can purposefully show respect for their level of authority and cooperate with it. When you do that, people feel respected and thus significant which reinforces what the first commandment protects – significance.
If you choose to ignore even the gatekeepers rightful authority, you may well torpedo your chance for success with that client. Years ago, I called the secretary for one of America’s more well known ministries and asked her to please make sure the FedEx package I sent was given to the leader of that ministry.
She felt I was telling her how to do her job and made the co-leader of that ministry aware of how that made her feel. Turns out, she was his wife. He called me and let me know that they were not interested in further conversations at that time. Ouch! (Fortunately, that turned around 2 or 3 years later and all was well.)
I would recommend you find out the God authorized version of authority and align yourself with that, while recognizing those rightful authority boundaries in the marketplace and cooperate with them. When you do, it will go well with you.