Read Romans 13:1-7
Giving the Prez His Props
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there
is no authority except that which God has established. The
authorities that exist have been established by God.
Digging Deeper: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities.” Deal with it, Democrats! Republicans, respect your president! And just hold on a minute, Independents, you’re not exempt from this either!
Whether it is the president or the policeman, city councilmen or congressman, democrat or republican, charismatic governor or senile senator, through the process that gave them their role, God has granted these officials the authority to lead you. In light of that, God expects you to “give them what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:7)
So come on people, give the president his props—the proper respect God expects from you for, if nothing else, the office he holds. I understand that you may not like him—Paul never said you had to—but he is God’s servant (Romans 4:4). And if you choose to rebel against his authority, well, you might as well shake your fist in the face of God, because that is, in effect what you are doing:
“He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:2)
By now, depending on what party you roll with, you may be quite irritated with what I am saying. You might even be thinking that these seven verses in Romans 13 may just be the one and only place in Scripture that is not divinely inspired; that Paul took leave of his senses at this point and wandered off the reservation when he wrote about respecting and obeying governmental leaders.
Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. These seven verses are Bible, which means that they are inspired, and that you are accountable for them. Like it or not, you and I will one day stand before God and give account for every idle word (Matthew 12:36) that we speak against the politicians that somehow—Lord only knows—got put into leadership over us. So be careful! Be respectful. And remember that ultimately, their authority derives from God’s authority, and they, too, are not just accountable to the voting public, but to God himself.
Having said all that, there are ways to redress grievances with governmental authorities. There is a democratic process for electing and removing leaders, and Christians ought to be actively, aggressively and unashamedly engaged in that process. And, furthermore, believers are never, ever expected to obey a leader or a law that violates God’s higher law. (Exodus 1:17, Acts 4:19) Should that happen, you and I are given permission by God to speak truth to power, resist—non-violently, of course—and be ready to go to jail, if not the gallows, for our faith.
But by and large, the most common and persistent response our Christian faith calls for in terms of our relationship to governmental authorities is prayer.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-4)
Pray for the president—you gotta be kidding? Submit to his authority—are you nuts? Give props to a guy I don’t respect a whole lot—get real! Well, think about this: Paul’s words here in Romans 13 were written around AD 57 when a guy named Nero was emperor of Rome. To say the least, Nero was not a nice guy—especially to Christians. (Check out Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
So here’s the deal: If Paul could do it, so can you!
“Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.”
This Week’s Assignment:
Read: Romans 13:1-14
Memorize: Romans 13:8
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
For Your Consideration: When Paul wrote Romans 13, he didn‘t insert a chapter break at the end of chapter 12. Chapters and verses were later added by editors, so what Paul wrote in this chapter was a simply continuation of his call in Romans 12:1-2 to offer our everyday lives as pleasing worship to God. In light of that, consider how your attitude toward governmental leaders (Romans 13:1-7), your treatment of the people in your life (Romans 13:8-10), and your personal purity in immoral times (Romans 13:11-14) might need to change to in order to be offered as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.