Levels of Love
Bible Reading: Acts 5:26-29
We must obey God rather than human authority. Acts 5:29
Bekka and her mom are Christians, but her dad isn’t. He’s addicted to alcohol—and that made the summer after Bekka’s sixth-grade year especially rough. As her dad saw several people at work lose their jobs, he panicked. Instead of working harder, he hid. When he drank too much in the evenings, he couldn’t wake up the next morning for work. And his boss started to call the house asking for him.
While Bekka’s mom was off at her own job, Bekka’s dad told her to answer the phone and tell his boss he was on his way to work—even if he was still sound asleep.
Bekka knew it wasn’t right to lie. She was smart enough to know it wasn’t a kid’s job to deal with a dad’s boss. So what was she supposed to do?
That situation makes us ask a big question: Are we supposed to obey authorities no matter what?
If Bekka refused to obey her dad, it might look like she was shattering the fifth commandment, the one that says “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). She wasn’t.
We’re fortunate that we don’t often have to choose between obeying a human authority and obeying God. But sometimes that’s exactly the choice even Christian kids face—probably not with parents, but possibly with teachers, coaches, or even the government.
Bekka chose to be smart. She didn’t think that “honor your father and mother” wasn’t meant for her. She didn’t say, “Forget it! My dad wants me to be a liar. He’s a cheat. I don’t ever have to listen to him again. In fact, I’m not obeying my parents anymore!” Because of the bad spot her dad placed her in, she had to choose to disobey in this one instance. But she worked hard to obey her parents in every other way.
Love doesn’t mean you cave in to others’ sinful wishes. It isn’t going along with their ungodly plans. Love means you act for their best, and sometimes the biggest good you can do is to stand against their sin.
Your job as a Christian is to build a habit of respectfully obeying the authorities in your life. Yet you might face situations where your duty to obey human authorities clashes with your bigger duty to follow God—like the apostles who found they had to disobey Jewish authorities and declare, “We must obey God rather than human authority” (Acts 5:29). And be sure of this: Whenever you have to choose between love for God and love for people, love for God always wins!
TALK: How can you respond when someone you’re supposed to obey expects you to do something you shouldn’t?
PRAY: Lord, help us love the people in our life completely—and love you supremely.
ACT: How would you help a friend like Bekka who’s in a tough spot?