As Christians, we take a position different from that of the world. It is not that we blindly do whatever we are told. On the contrary, at times we must refuse to submit to the will of others even if they have positions of authority. This was also true of first-century Christians. For instance, when the apostles were ordered to stop preaching, they did not cave in to the high priest and other authority figures who were part of the Sanhedrin. They did not abandon right conduct in order to conform to human authority.—Read Acts 5:27-29.
Numerous servants of God in the pre-Christian era acted with similar resolve. For example, Moses “refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God,” even though doing so incurred “the anger of the king.” (Heb. 11:24, 25, 27) Joseph resisted the advances of Potiphar’s wife, who had the power to retaliate and cause him harm. (Gen. 39:7-9) Daniel “determined in his heart that he would not pollute himself with the delicacies of the king,” though his position on the matter was not easy for the principal court official of Babylon to accept. (Dan. 1:8-14) Such examples show that, historically, God’s people have taken a firm stand for what is right, regardless of the consequences. They did not give in to men simply to curry favor with them; neither should we.
Our courageous stand is not to be confused with mere stubbornness; nor are we like some who rebel just to make a political point. Rather, we are determined to accept Jehovah’s authority over that of any human. When man’s law conflicts with God’s law, the decision as to what we will do is not difficult. Like the apostles in the first century, we obey God as ruler rather than men.
What has helped us to accept God’s authority? We adopt the position stated at Proverbs 3:5, 6: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” We believe that anything God requires of us will ultimately work to our good. (Read Deuteronomy 10:12, 13.) Indeed, Jehovah described himself to the Israelites as “the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.” Then he added: “O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isa. 48:17, 18) We trust those words. We are convinced that it is always in our best interests to obey God’s commands.
We accept Jehovah’s authority and obey him even if we do not fully understand the reason for some requirement set out in his Word. This is not credulity; it is trust. It reflects heartfelt confidence that Jehovah knows what is good for us. Our obedience is also an expression of our love, for the apostle John wrote: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) But there is another aspect of our obedience that we should not overlook.