What Should I Do If My Authorities Ask Me To Do Wrong?
God requires everyone to be under authority. Children are to be under the authority and protection of their parents.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just. Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: ( Ephesians 6:1–2)
Wives are to be submissive to their husbands
Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: (Ephesians 5:22)
Employees are to be obedient to their employers
Servants, be obedient to them that are your lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ: (Ephesians 6:5)
Citizens are to be in subjection to their government
Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For therefore also you pay tribute. For they are the ministers of God, serving unto this purpose. Render therefore to all men their dues. Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honour, to whom honour. (Romans 13:1–7)
Sometimes God allows us to observe or discern things that our authorities do not perceive. In such situations, effective communication with our authorities is essential. When you are asked to do evil or when you're authorities are about to do evil, an appeal should be made.
As you mature in Christ, you will learn to view circumstances in life with wisdom from God. As you gain wisdom, you will become better prepared to make precise, effective appeals. All your appeals may not be granted. However, if an appeal is denied, you can be confident that any suffering you experience as a result of standing alone and refusing to do evil is truly suffering that is for Christ’s sake.
By following these seven principles, your can present wise and effective appeals:
1. Be in “right standing” with God and with your authority.
Being in right standing with God means that you have repented (made a change of mind, heart, and direction) of sin, been baptized. Excepted Christ as Lord and Saviour of your life, and are walking in full communion with His Church.
For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith: Whosoever believeth in him, shall not be confounded. For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. (Romans 10:9–13)
Do penance (repent), and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you. Pray for us. For we trust we have a good conscience, being willing to behave ourselves well in all things. And I beseech you the more to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. (Hebrews 13:17-19)
You must be in right standing with your earthly authorities.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just. Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long lived upon earth. And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ: Not serving to the eye, as it were pleasing men, but, as the servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart, With a good will serving, as to the Lord, and not to men. Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man shall do, the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he be bond, or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatenings, knowing that the Lord both of them and you is in heaven; and there is no respect of persons with him. (Ephesians 6:1–9)
The following questions can help you determine if you are in right standing or not.
Have you been obedient to your authority?
Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. (Romans 13:1-2)
And Samuel said: Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims, and not rather that the voice of the Lord should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifices: and to hearken rather than to offer the fat of rams. Because it is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey. Forasmuch therefore as thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord hath also rejected thee from being king. (I Samuel 15:22–23)
Do you have a clear conscience?
Render therefore to all men their dues. Tribute, to whom tribute is due: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honour, to whom honour. (Romans 13:7)
Have you fulfilled your responsibilities with integrity and excellence?
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God. Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance. Serve ye the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:22–24)
You should be able to confidently answer each of these questions with an affirmative response. If you cannot, you should repent and do whatever is necessary so that you can reply affirmatively to these questions.
2. Have the right motives for your appeal.
Your appeal should communicate your sincere concern for three aspects of your authority’s leadership: his reputation, his goals, and his authority.
You should warn an authority about a wrong course of action that will damage his reputation.
You should have an understanding of your authority’s goals and work diligently to help him achieve them. If you become aware of a situation that does not support his goals, you should make an appeal.
As part of your commitment to do all you can to make your authority successful, you should alert him to situations that would diminish or threaten his authority, because if he is robbed of his authority, he will be unable to fulfill his responsibilities.
3. Discern the appropriate time to make your appeal.
To determine the right timing for your appeal, you could ask these three questions:
Is my authority free to concentrate on my appeal?
You may have prepared an excellent appeal, but if your authority is distracted when the appeal is made, it will not be heard. A wise petitioner will request permission to speak with his authority and gain his attention thoroughly before making the appeal.
So the king and Aman went in, to drink with the queen. And the king said to her again the second day, after he was warm with wine: What is thy petition, Esther, that it may be granted thee? and what wilt thou have done: although thou ask the half of my kingdom, thou shalt have it. Then she answered: If I have found Favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please thee, give me my life for which I ask, and my people for which I request. For we are given up, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. And would God we were sold for bondmen and bondwomen: the evil might be borne with, and I would have mourned in silence: but now we have an enemy, whose cruelty redoundeth upon the king. And king Assuerus answered and said: Who is this, and of what power, that he should do these things? And Esther said: It is this Aman that is our adversary and most wicked enemy. Aman hearing this was forthwith astonished, not being able to bear the countenance of the king and of the queen. (Esther 7:1–6)
Will my authority understand that I am ready to make sacrifices in order for the appeal to be granted?
If so, he will likely consider your request more seriously.
Will my authority be able to count on my acceptance of his decision, even if he denies the appeal?
Your authority must know that he has freedom to make the decision. He should not feel like you have already made the decision for him.
4. Provide accurate information.
As you prepare your appeal, ask the following questions:
To the best of my ability, have I honestly and thoroughly evaluated the circumstances, giving special consideration to my strengths and weaknesses?
(For example, if a person who is easily influenced by immature friends requests permission to go on a weeklong camping trip with a group of such friends, that individual’s parents should question the wisdom of the appeal.)
Have I provided all the pertinent facts required to make a wise decision?
If your authority knows that you are either unaware of important facts or are ignoring them, he will probably have a negative response to your appeal.
Have I thought about the way that my authority will relate to the information I present?
When Paul appealed to King Agrippa, he began his appeal with words that acknowledged the king’s familiarity with Jewish culture:
“. . . as thou knowest all, both customs and questions that are among the Jews: Wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.” (Acts 26:3)
Paul had wisely taken the king’s background, interests, and viewpoint into consideration as he prepared the appeal.
Have I acknowledged any God-given hesitations about the appeal?
5. Have right attitudes.
More than any other factor, a wrong attitude is the reason appeals are rejected. An effective appeal demonstrates attitudes of reverence, loyalty, and gratefulness.
Reverence is a by-product of realizing that God works through our human authorities. You should understand the difference between an authority’s divine position and his human personality. You should reverence him in relation to his position of authority, and you should show respect to him as a person.
Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God's sake: whether it be to the king as excelling; Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good: For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if for conscience towards God, a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully. (I Peter 2:13–19)
Loyalty is a quality that is valued greatly by those who are in positions of authority. Loyalty encourages a servant’s spirit—an inward motivation to make successful the ones whom we are serving. Appeals that grow out of a loyal spirit and a servant’s heart have an entirely different tone, and receive an entirely different response, than those that come from a disloyal, selfish spirit.
An effective appeal should reflect an attitude of gratefulness. In fact, gratefulness is usually a key element of an appeal. It is possible to have a grateful spirit only if you give all of your expectations to God and recognize that whatever He gives is more than you deserve.
But be thou, O my soul, subject to God: for from him is my patience. (Psalm 62:5)
6. Use appropriate words to present your appeal.
Usually, the very nature of an appeal reflects some degree of resistance to an authority’s directives. Consequently, it is easy for your words to be misunderstood. To avoid unnecessary reaction, choose words that can successfully guide your authority around potential mental roadblocks.
Does my appeal begin with positive statements that I can express with sincerity?
Will I say, “These are my personal convictions” and thus avoid condemning my authority, who may not hold those convictions?
Have I written out my appeal carefully and checked to see that it includes all of the elements of an effective appeal?
7. Respond correctly if your appeal is rejected.
Your response to an appeal that is rejected will reveal your true attitude about the situation. A gracious response not only will be a proper testimony; it also may prompt your authority to reconsider the appeal. Also, a right response will influence your authority to be open to your future appeals.
If your appeal is accepted, you should express your genuine gratitude. Be sure to follow through with any commitments or offers that you made in your appeal.
Serve Your Authorities Well
Regardless of your circumstances or your position in life, you have an opportunity to serve your authorities. Do all that you can do to protect your authority’s reputation, to help him reach his goals, and to help him maintain his authority.