“For he is the minster of God to thee for good, but if thou do that which is evil, be afraid for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” (Romans 13:4)
No one likes to be punished, and this is found to be true from the time we are babies. They soon learn how to get the attention of their parents. We learn early in life that there are rules that we must obey, or there are consequences for those who choose to do otherwise.
The apostle Paul spoke of this in his letter to the believers in Rome. He reminded them that they must submit themselves to God, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Those who rebel against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will bring judgment on themselves. Rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.
Paul lived during the time of Nero the emperor of Rome who cruelly persecuted Christians. When Paul wrote this letter, Nero was in power. Yet, Paul exhorted the Roman believers to submit to Nero’s authority, because that authority was ordained by God Himself. It is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but because of conscience. Believers must obey government, not only because it is their civic duty, but because it is their spiritual duty before God, so long as the government does not ask anything that is in violation of the laws God has given.
We would all admit that we do not always agree with decisions made by those in power. Paul reminds us in verse 6 that the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to government. He encourages us to give everyone what we owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Even our Lord paid the tribute tax in Capernaum when the collector asked Peter if Jesus paid tax. (Matthew 17:24-27) He told Peter to go to the lake and throw out his line. He would find a four drachma coin in the first fish he caught to pay both their taxes. May we also be the law abiding people God would have us be.
The Lord expects us to be obedient,
To the laws of our land,
Even if we do not agree,
It is according to God’s command.
For it is our duty,
To submit to authority,
For that is pleasing to God,
Even if we do not agree.
Dear Father, please help us to remember that you are in charge and you want us to obey you. For Christ’s sake. Amen.