Fear God, Honor the King
Mighty God, before You today I long to be open and receptive, honest and undefensive, unafraid and committed to obedience.
Read 1 Peter 2:11-17
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
What does it mean to live well before other people in our society? Peter reminds us that it doesn’t mean we have to absorb their cultural values, for we are “foreigners and exiles” (11). Nevertheless, we are to live in a way that makes an impact on those around us–not to court favor or enhance our status, but so that people might recognize our faith as genuine. When our good lives honor God, others are helped to glimpse his glory.
One of the ways we honor God is in respecting legal and political authorities. Peter’s point is that all authority ultimately comes from God, so, in acknowledging the right of rulers to rule, Christians accept that their office is under God. This means, of course, that we are entitled to require high standards of justice and fairness from those in office. Submission is not to be identified with compliance. Christians are to accept authority, but not to conform to or ignore wrongdoing. We are to live as people who are free before God.
Peter does not address corrupt leaders, for he was not speaking to people with power but to those without it. Today, with greater legal power and opportunity to exercise freedom, Christians can take a more prophetic role in exposing abuse and corruption. Christian organizations like World Vision, World Relief and Christian Aid have publicly opposed practices like tax evasion, land grabbing and vulture funds because they’re wrong and harm the poor. Yet Peter’s warnings are as relevant to us as to his earliest readers. If we demand righteousness from others, we must demand it from ourselves also. If we regard ourselves and the church as above the law, we risk prosecution for unlawful actions. This is not living as servants of God, and our public humiliation is unlikely to bring Christ any glory!
What sinful desires war against your soul (11)? Have you seen progress in defeating these desires? Why or why not? Are there any new strategies for victory you can embrace?
Sovereign Lord, I pray for those in authority in our land, that they will govern with integrity; and for those who rule, that they will live in freedom and safety.