It was Friday, July 20, 1787, a hot day in Philadelphia. The Constitutional Convention was only half-way concluded. Numerous issues had been discussed; now the subject of impeachment was before the delegates. George Mason, from Virginia, arose and said: “No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above justice? Above all, shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?”
“Shall any man be above justice?” What a profoundly important question! Kings and commoners, presidents and paupers, sovereigns and citizens – all must be governed by law. King Uzziah imagined that, as Israel’s king, he could abrogate God’s law and do as he wished. King David imagined that his position, power, perhaps even his closeness to the Lord, meant he was above rules that regulated the “common people”; that he could take Bathsheba, manipulate the army, slay Uriah, hide his own sin, and still function in a place of responsibility before God. Reuben was Jacob’s eldest. He was born to lead, but was bound by lust, and banished from leadership. Samson, a man with almost limitless potential, was fatally flawed and acted as though he was not subject to the same rules of separation and holiness that governed other Israelites, let alone Nazarites.
The unconverted are “lawless.” It does not surprise us when we see that characteristic manifested in the world. But when we see it in our own hearts or in the lives of believers, especially those whom we highly esteem, it is saddening, discouraging, and confusing.
None of us is “above the law” or, in the Christian life, above the Word of God. The Apostle Paul said that he was “not without law to God, but under the law to Christ” (1Cor. 9:21). We need to remind ourselves constantly that we live under the eye of a holy God. If we wish to serve Him in any way – Sunday school work, gospel preaching, ministering to the Lord’s beloved people, caring and shepherding them – we are called upon to do so:
With reverence, considering His greatness and holiness: “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psa 2:11).
With wholeheartedness, considering His grace and kindness: “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He hath done for you” (1Sam 12:24).
With joy, considering His goodness and mercy: “Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing … for the Lord is good” (Psa 100:2).
When Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife, he lost his coat but not his character. His reputation was smeared, but his righteous character remained intact. We cannot acceptably serve God or His people if we neglect the development of Christian character. The surgeon who operates on you may be cheating on his taxes and still be a useful man of medicine. The accountant who handles your taxes may be cheating on his wife and still be a stellar accountant. But a believer cannot be marked by such duplicity. Hypocrisy and unrighteousness should have no place in the believer’s heart and life. Joshua exhorted the Israelites: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth … as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:14). How wise was Joshua’s injunction and how noble his determination! May it be ours as well.