Do People Have a Right to Expect Us to Act Like We Talk?
A Word of Encouragmeent from Elizabeth Handford
My husband and I sat in a Chicago court room, awaiting a hearing to complete the adoption of our baby boy. The adoptive couple whose hearing was in progress seemed to be in trouble. The judge found out they'd bought the child in a commercial transaction. He was incensed. "You mean," he said, his anger barely controlled, "you paid somebody ten thousand dollars for this child? That is absolutely unacceptable. I will remove this child from your home immediately."
Stunned silence fell on the courtroom. How must those adoptive parents feel? We waited quietly while the judge considered the options. "All right," he decided. "You may keep the child, but I will appoint a guardian ad litem who will monitor you weekly for the next six months." His husky voice rose to fill the courtroom. "You cannot break the laws of this country with impunity."
His words etched themselves in my heart. No matter how I longed for a baby, I could never pay for one! When God gave
us six more children to adopt, we were meticulously careful not to make it even seem like we were buying the child. I believed that judge. The law was on his side. He spoke for truth and justice. It was right for me to obey every word he said.
Soon after, the judge was elected governor of the state. Not long after, he was indicted for breaking innumerable laws to build massive personal businesses with state monies. He'd used federal funds to build superhighways to serve those businesses. He was tried, convicted, and sent to prison.
When I read that indictment, I felt betrayed. The judge had used words like "honor," "justice," "truth," and "law," while he personally and blatantly dishonored them. Don't we have a right to expect a judge to obey the laws he requires of others?
Yes, it is my right, and yours. You have a right to expect me to live by what I say I believe. A citizen has the right to expect elected officials to keep the law. A church member has a right to expect his pastor to live the godly life he preaches. A employee has a right to expect his supervisor to be fair. A child has the right to see his parents live by the standards they hold for him.
And there's a parallel obligation. Citizens ought to keep the law. Church members ought to live like what they say they believe. An honest supervisor has the right to have an honest employee. A child ought to obey his parents. Philippians 2:14,15 says,
In everything you do,
stay away from complaining and arguing,
so that no one can speak a word of blame against you.
You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God
in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.
Let your lives shine brightly before them.
The truth is, many of the people watching us secretly hope that what we say we believe is real. They yearn to see proof of what we say is true. Yes, they may be "crooked and perverse," but they have a right to see us acting like what we say we believe. And perhaps, then they too will come to believe.