Friday, September 08, 2017

Government and you

The legislative buildings in Victoria, BC,
outlined in lights. - Photo © 2013 by V. Nesdoly

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Romans 13:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." Romans 13:1

If you listen to talk shows on radio or watch news channels on TV, you'll know that one of the favourite topics is to criticize the government. People have made careers out of it! Our practice of second-guessing political decisions and freely offering our opinions — often in strong language — has made serving as an elected official an often thankless and unattractive job.

What a different attitude toward government Paul tells Christians to take in Romans 13. Some ideas he puts forward that should impact our behaviour:

1. Governing authorities are actually "appointed by God" (Romans 13:1 - see also Daniel 4:32; Psalm 75:6-7).
Even evil governments, we ask? The footnotes in my study Bible comments:
"Paul does not suggest that God approves corrupt government, ungodly officials or unjust legislation. Sometimes, however, in punishment for the sins of a people or for other reasons known to Him, God allows evil rulers to have authority for a time, as the Old Testament prophets frequently testify" (New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1570).

2. We should be subject to authorities (Romans 13:2).
If they are there by God's permission, even appointment, they are, in effect, God's government of us. Being subject means that we obey the laws of a particular government's jurisdiction (federal, provincial or civic).

However, we can make the case for civil disobedience. If obeying the laws of the land causes us to sin, our first loyalty is to God (Esther 4:16; Daniel 3:12-18; 6:10; Matthew 2:12; Acts 5:29; Hebrews 11:23).

3. Killing done by the state — to keep order and to hand out retribution — is different from murder (Romans 13:4).
Paul talks about the government officials who "bear the sword" (and why would one bear a sword unless to kill, or as a threat to kill?) as "God's minister" and "avenger." My Bible's footnotes explain:
"The fact that God authorizes governments as His servants to use force even to the point of taking human life does not contradict the command 'You shall not murder' in Exodus 20:13. The word used in that commandment refers to criminal murder and does not include judicial taking of life or killing in war, for which the OT uses other words. The same is true of the Greek word translated "kill" or "murder' in such NT passages as Matthew 5:21" - New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1570.

4. We should obey government as a matter of good conscience toward God and not only because we're in danger of getting caught and punished if we don't, (Romans 13:5-7). This includes paying taxes without complaining (...ouch!).

In a democratic society, it's often hard to submit meekly to government as Paul tells us we should. To be fair, we need to utilize all the ways our democratic freedoms give us to get a government we can support (like vote, give feedback to our representatives, even join and support the political party of our choice). But if we really believed that our government was there by God's ordaining, and we spent as much time praying for our authorities as we do criticizing them, we'd probably find them much easier to obey.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have an attitude toward government that pleases You. Today I bring before You Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Horgan and the mayor of my town. May Your will be done in their lives and, through them, in my country, province and city today. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.


  1. I agree totally, Violet. Each one in a position of power has so much to contend with. They need our prayers.

  2. It's easy to criticize when the buck doesn't stop with us. I think if we realized half of what those in government had to deal with, we'd be on our knees for them a lot more. Responsibility is a big burden.


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