1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;
4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
8Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
I’ve actually been waiting for this passage. We always hear about God telling us to respect and support our government and pray for our leaders. Well, here it is. I like how Paul explains the purpose of government and God’s design for government and civic order. Of course, sin corrupts individuals in government just like everyone else in the world. So what does this mean then? How do we respect people who lie cheat and steal?
I see a couple points in this passage that should be highlighted:
1) we should follow the law. Think about how it looks upon the Kingdom and Christians as a whole. Certainly, we all make mistakes, etc. etc. but imagine upstanding citizens of the church getting arrested and thrown in jail. How does that reflect upon the Christian way of life? It is interesting that Paul wrote this letter while IN jail. Remember, our actions are supposed to glorify God.
2) in verse 8, Paul mentions the law. Notice it’s not capitalized as in The Law (referring to Mosaic law). Rather, the law of love put forth by Christ. I feel this verse is talking about not owing anyone as in compensation for something you’ve done. There’s loans, etc. but I feel Paul here is telling us we should be careful of our actions so as to not need to apologize or pay restitution. Keeping this in mind helps us to beware of the consequences of our actions prior to doing them.
3) respect your leaders. Our pastor says, “you don’t really have the right to complain about your leaders until you have prayed for them.” God has put these people in these positions for His purpose. While you may not agree with the actions or decisions these people make, they are fulfilling God’s will. Ever read Revelation? The end of times is sparked by wars, revolt, and government unrest.
4) ultimately, we are to respect authority. As we learn how to better respect God’s authority in our lives, we will begin to better respect the authority figures over us. Things in those positions are never as easy as it seems as a subordinate.
What leaders in your life do you need to pray for instead of complain about?