DO WHAT’S RIGHT
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.
Pray for leaders of the world, especially those of your own country, and the decisions they will be making today.
However we may feel about our current political situation, the law and the governing authorities of our society are a good thing. Of course, our world and its systems are imperfect. Yet, Paul teaches that such public authorities receive their power from God, for our good. In these very early times of the church, believers (understood to be a Jewish sect) were a privileged religious group under Roman law.1 It made sense to ‘live at peace’ with everyone.2 As Paul reminded Timothy, good government brings about a peaceful context in which to live for God.3
Law-abiding living is commended across the New Testament. Jesus himself assisted Peter in paying their taxes.4 Here, Paul insists on obeying the law, as a matter of conscience (v 5), because in doing so we submit to God’s appointed servants who uphold right behavior (v 4). Paying taxes and giving due respect to those in authority are all part of our submission to God-ordained governing authorities (v 7).
Yet, these verses raise difficult questions. What about our reactions to governments who are working in ways which oppose God’s law and his people? As always, a particular passage must be understood in the context of other Scriptures. Jesus gave us the principle: ‘give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’.5 Paul does not advocate blind obedience.6 There are times when Christians will recognize that a ruler is falsely claiming divine right and they will choose to ‘obey God rather than human beings’.7 At other times, the church would face persecution from rulers: suffering for our faith is a major theme in Paul’s writing about how we are to live as God’s people. Eventually, as believers, our allegiance is to Christ who is head over all authorities.
Pray for those who are suffering today because of their determination to obey God rather than human leaders.
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.
1 FF Bruce, Romans, Tyndale, 1971, p231 2 Rom 12:18 3 1 Tim 2:2 4 Matt 17:24–27 5 Matt 22:21 6 John Stott, The Message of Romans, 1994, p340–343 7 Acts 5:29
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