I was a Baby Christian when God spoke these words to me. Newly saved and looking for information and revelation on every side, these words surprised me. Now, 45 years later, I see I have both obeyed and not obeyed them many times.
In brief, here is what it means.
God is no respecter of person. Acts 10:34
But that needs explanation. “Persons” means that as far as God is concerned no level of authority, accomplishment, celebrity or talent is considered by God when He is assessing reality. Sonny and Cher have no more respect in God’s eyes than I or my grandchild. In God’s eyes we are all seen and known for what we really are.
If my Congressman tells me something is good, and the Word of God says it is evil, my Congressman’s words mean nothing to God, and consequently also to me. God’s word is above all people and opinions. If however my Congressman says something that agrees with God’s word then I can agree with him (or her.)
For the next 7 years I spent many hours Bible teaching and counseling so these words were put into practice many times over. People repeated their tale of woe, and I am not saying it was not true, but God reminded me of His advice. This person’s situation was not to be defined by them, but by Him and His Word.
In other words, I was not to take sides with this person against God. And you’d be surprised at how often that appeared to be what they wanted – not ministry, but sympathy. The Bible never endorses sympathy which is taking sides, but it seeks compassion which is the application of the love of and word of God to any situation.
Frequently that means examining the problem as sin and lack rather than victimization. Yes, I am sorry your daughter died at 42, but blaming God is a dead end. Yes, I regret and weep with you that your husband is a drunk, but it is not God’s fault that he drinks, nor is it God’s fault that he does not stop drinking either. And all your prayers that God intervene in that specific way are for naught.
Prayers asking God to change people do not work. If you live a while you learn this. I was beaten savagely by my mother for many years and rather than stop her drinking I was removed from the home by Divine intervention. In fact, she died drunk at 73 having been saved in the last month of her life. The moral of the story is that God’s chief end for man is his salvation, not his reformation. After that, reform of behavior and thinking is expected; provision for this comes through the church and its members. Then change becomes a reality. In the meantime, He got me away from that situation through many miraculous interventions. That is called the grace of God, a story for another day.
Too often our prayers deal with externals, things that will make life easier for us, but more often than not, extreme discomfort is what God wants – try praying that instead.
Derek Prince, a leading Bible teacher of the 20th century whose works are available on the internet, used to say that we should pray that so-and-so will become desperate.
Desperate people seek God.
And desperate people will seek God after they have tried everything else, blame, guilt (on other people) AA, AlaNon, pills, travel, money, fame – you name it. All the avenues of false change are before us, tempting us to agree with the evil by applying the natural solutions of self-indulgent ones.
God does recognize authority however, which we will take up in another post.