Monday, May 8, 2017
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If you're a little kid and there's a big tree, it's there for you to climb, right? At least that's the way my wife Karen approached it when she was a little girl on the farm. They had this big maple tree - BIG maple tree! It took three people to get their arms all the way around the trunk. Well, little Karen started to climb that old maple one day, working her way through those big, thick old branches near the bottom. She got almost to the top when she suddenly realized something - the branches at the top are a lot skinnier than the branches at the bottom. Suddenly she was out on a very slim limb, on the verge of falling. That's when she started yelling for help - which, thankfully, her father provided. Karen found out in that old maple tree that the risks of falling are a lot greater at the top than they are at the bottom.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Danger At the Top."
Which leads us to our word for today from the Word of God from the book of Deuteronomy - God's instructions to His people about what to expect from any king they might have in the future. This is Deuteronomy 17:18. It tells us how someone should act when they get to the top. "When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests. It is to be with him; he is to read it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law...and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time. "
God insists that His leader actually make a copy of God's words in his own handwriting. He wants His leader to know God's instructions and boundaries are "for himself". No one else had to make a personalized copy of God's laws, but the ruler did. Why is this? Obviously, because if he goes wrong, a lot of other people go wrong.
The fact is it gets more dangerous as you get closer to the top. Now you're not a king, but God may have entrusted you with some level of spiritual leadership. Are you a teacher, a pastor, are there some other Christians who look to you, are you a board member, an administrator in some ministry, maybe a large giver to a ministry? In God's eyes, He has promoted you to a position of influence and leadership, and these words are for you.
Because there is a tendency for those with spiritual power to sometimes feel that the rules don't necessarily apply to them. It's called entitlement. They can take leader detours because of their position. They can do what's expedient if what's right is too difficult. After all, this is for God's work, isn't it? But God insists that His work be done His way!
When Richard Nixon was defending his actions during Watergate, he pleaded "executive privilege". "Hey, I'm the President, so I can play by different rules, right?" Wrong. Tragically, too many people in spiritual leadership think they have executive privilege.
But God actually lets us know in these verses that the higher you get, the more responsible you are to play by the rules, and "...not to consider yourself better than your brothers and turn from the law." If you're in leadership, the rule is "no compromise" when it comes to the standards of God.
If you're in leadership, the Lord wants you to read His Word "all the days of your life." Each new day you need to immerse yourself in God's perspective so you will "carefully follow", it says, all God has said. It's just too easy to wander into your own rationalized ways unless you regularly make God's Word your only way to go.
As you get higher, remember it gets more spiritually dangerous and easier to fall. Don't let the altitude change your original dependant relationship with the One who called you. Whether you're at the top or at the bottom, your job is the same - to trust and obey.