THE GIFT OF GOVERNMENT
Lord, today help me to be a bearer of hope, a champion of justice, and an agent of reconciliation.
Read Romans 13:1–7
Submission to Governing Authorities
13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectChoose a country from the World Watch list on the Open Doors website. Pray for Christians suffering persecution in that country today.
Yesterday’s passage widened the focus of our living sacrifice, from ourselves right through to the world around us. Now it widens further, to those in governing authority over us, whom we’re to receive as the gift of God (vs 1,4,6). Human society needs order sustained by law and authority, and that is God’s gift in creation. Skeptical westerners might be shocked by this; those suffering active injustice or persecution might even be offended by it (vs 2,5).
Before we accuse Paul of being naive, remember that his era experienced every type of government we know today, and he suffered much from authorities himself (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:23–26). Moreover, remember Paul’s not defending specific governments; it’s the institution that’s ordained rather than its particular expression.
We’re required, as living sacrifices, to submit to the governing authorities as part of our submission to God, as did Jesus himself in John 19:9–11. Wherever these two conflict, the second always has precedence over the first – as martyrs showed in refusing to repudiate Jesus to declare Caesar as Lord. But even when we refuse to obey, we must still commend Jesus through paying what is owed to government (vs 6,7).
What are ways that you can advocate for those suffering injustice and even persecution in the world today?
Mighty God, today I pray for those who serve our state and country. May those who seek to bring needed change be guided by you as they navigate the bewildering maze of politics.
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