But all that we discuss can be applied not only to the president, but also to our supervisor or boss at work, police officers, and even those who hold local offices in our community.
First, let’s look at Romans 13:1-7.
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.
Let’s unpack these verses a little and then I will share on a more personal note why this resonates so deeply for me.
Submit to governing authorities; be subject. When we look at verse one, we learn to things very quickly.
- Honor those in authority with our words, actions, thoughts
- No authority established that God has not allowed
- This is true even if they are not leading well (not a Christian)
- God is behind and over all authority.
John 19- See the conversation that Pilate has with Jesus:
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
Pilate says- Don’t you realize I have the power to free you? Pilate was in a position of power- naively thinking that Jesus needed to appeal to him to be saved. Jesus makes clear His Lordship- that His Authority is greater than any that Pilate claims.
The desire to rebel against authority has been part of the human race since the beginning. It was part of the lie Satan told in the garden. Maybe life would be better if we were out from under God’s authority. If we were our own boss.
Submission can feel like a life-taker, instead of a life-giver- it binds us, controls us, takes our freedom.
Yet, in Christ, submission and freedom reside in perfect harmony.
Look at the Lord’s Prayer- Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done- those phrases call us to remember our submission before God.
We need to take this submission to government seriously- for at the root of it is our desire to rebel against rules, authorities, powers- to stubbornly want our own way- and in resisting those in authority (whether they are good or evil) we can foster a resistance to any authority, including God’s.
Paul wants us to be on guard against this tendency within us to rebel- and choose always to submit.
Consider this- Government authority is a reflection of God’s authority over all creation.
He is showing us an aspect of His character when we look at the laws and rules that we establish- the order we try to keep within the framework of the laws and statutes of our land.
The greatest difference- God’s rule will be and is PERFECT.
What do we do if those in leadership do not represent God? Or even rebel against His Teachings?
Example: If your boss asks you to do something illegal.
We need to pray and seek God on behalf of those in authority when we are placed in situations where we are being persecuted or suffering under unjust authority.
Do not respond evil for evil.
We honor government authority, or our boss, by being obedient to God’s Will first and foremost. So if what they ask us to do is in direct contradiction to God’s law- we obey God.
We have examples in Scripture of those who disobeyed govt. authority when it contradicted God.
- Daniel, when he prayed to God even when it was against the law.
- The Hebrew midwives that hid the babies from Pharoh when he commanded that they be killed.
- The Wise Men when they avoided Harod after he commanded that they tell him where the Christ child was after they found him.
Our highest loyalty is to our God.
When we honor authority the way that God has called us to, we are dramatically different than the world. The world says you have to earn my respect and trust and honor- God calls us to give it freely in spite of how that person may act toward us.
God wants to reveal an aspect of His character through us- how He has ordered creation and provided a framework of laws (10 commandments) to show us our need for Him.
This has been particularly convicting to me on two fronts. I do not agree with our current president on many issues- and I have been disrespectful and mocking towards him at times. God has convicted me of this. I pray that He will soften my heart towards him that I may pray for him during those times when I may be tempted to sin in my attitude toward him.
I also had a boss at my last job before being an at home Mom that I was disrespectful toward at times. Never to her face, but at times I talked negatively about her behind her back. God has also convicted me of that through this message- opening my eyes to how I could have been a greater witness if I would have refused to say anything negative or critical about her.
I am praying for those of you who have someone in authority over you who is unkind, or even cruel. Who may single you out and try to make things more difficult at your job. I can’t imagine how hard that must be.
Please send me a message and I will pray for you- that you may be a light to shine in the darkness and witness to your boss and coworkers.
May we be honoring and respectful of authority, always mindful that God holds us accountable for our words, thoughts, and actions in regard to those in leadership over us.