After the battle was won, the Israelites asked Gideon to be their ruler. In Judges 8, they had already moved from the position of the Lord bringing the victory to turning away from the Lord. They wanted Gideon to be their ruler. Gideon quickly told them that the Lord was their ruler.
Even though the victory was clearly given by the Lord, they were quick to take their eyes off of Him. They were quick to attribute the victory to Gideon and his leadership. In the same way, we often are quick to attribute our accomplishments to others. We easily agree to support someone’s decisions, advice, and opinions and forget about our true Ruler, our Lord and Savior.
We have bosses. We have politicians. We have a lot of people in leadership positions in different areas of our lives. But there should never be a moment when anyone is put before God. God is first always.
“Then the Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian.’ But Gideon replied, ‘I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The LORD will rule over you! ‘” – Judges 8:22-23 [NLT]
In a world where people often do whatever it takes to get somewhere, we always have to be on guard and use good discernment. In 3 John, we learn about Diotrephes, a man who, as John puts it, “loves to be first among them” (v. 9). We all know those people, the ones who have to be in charge and usually have to be found right no matter the topic at hand. In the letter, John wrote that “the one who does good is of God” (v. 11). If we remember that, and use God’s Word as the measuring stick, we will make wise decisions.
A person who is first is not always right. We see this in politics with our governing bodies, with company leadership, and even on the school playground. Having a need to be seen above others, usually has less to do with being right, than it does about being in the spotlight. Note how often Jesus did not want the attention, but He was always right. He could have spent hours trying to show people how He was right, but that wasn’t His purpose. He was humble and focused. It was the people around Him that wanted to make Him king.
We are supposed to obey our leadership and respect their authority. This doesn’t mean that we allow God’s design for our lives to be negatively effected by those who wish to be first. When a person tries to be first, they forget one big detail—God is first. No one else can be first no matter how hard a person tries. As you live along side the Diotrephes of our day, those who have to be first and wish to toss around accusations and do whatever it takes to look like the top dog, remember Who is first. Remember Who you serve. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego showed us, if it goes against what God desires, do not bow down.
“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” – 1 Peter 5:5 [ESV]