INTRO.- We have authorities or authority figures throughout all our lives.
ILL.- Little Johnny was going to a public school and he was doing very badly in math. So his mother decided to put him into a Catholic school. When she got his report card at the end of the term, his marks in math had improved tremendously. So she asked him why. He replied, "When I saw that guy nailed to the plus sign, I knew they meant business!"
Did you ever have a tough school teacher who meant business?
ILL.- I remember my 5th grade teacher very well. Her name was Mrs. Bull and I remember her as having a scowling, frowning look. And who knows why? Clarence Ward was in her class as well. I don’t remember how it started but Clarence and Mrs. Bull got into a fight of sorts. She told him to sit down and pay attention and he did just the opposite. He mouthed off to her and she came after him. He jumped and ran from her and she started to chase him around the room. We students thought it was hilarious but Mrs. Bull did not. Clarence had his winter coat in hand and turned toward her and started hitting her with it and then he turned and ran. I don’t remember what happened but I sure remember that incident and decided that I didn’t want to act up in Mrs. Bull’s class.
ILL.- At my 50th high school class reunion there was also our high school music teacher, Mr. Lawson. He was nice guy, friendly smile, but he required attention in his class. And I guess one day I was not paying attention or was acting up, and he took me outside and paddled me. At our reunion I reminded him that he paddled me even though he didn’t remember the incident nor me. He said, “There was one thing I never did. I never paddled out of anger.” Apparently, he paddled only out of our disobedience and unruliness.
But I was never unruly again in his class. Now Mrs. Straw’s Art class was a different matter. I wasn’t the best at art but I behaved quite well in her class. Why? Because she was pretty! I thought she was very pretty. I remember her saying to me one time, “Now, Steven, you can do better work than that.” And I probably did because I wanted to please her since she was pretty. I’m not sure I was in love but I sure liked her!
Authority figures come in all shapes and sizes and at different places in life: Moms and dads, school teachers, bosses, etc.
ILL.- A manager and a sales rep stood looking at a map on which colored pins indicated the company representative in each area. "I'm not going to fire you, Wilson," the manager said, "but I'm loosening your pin a bit just to emphasize the insecurity of your situation."
Did you ever have a boss who threatened to fire you unless you shaped up? Sometimes threats don’t always get the job done.
Proverbs 29:19 “A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond.”
Some bosses threaten their employees to get them to work, others cut their pay, and others may fire some in order to get others to work harder. Bosses rule whether we like them or not and we’ve all had some we didn’t like.
PROP.- Paul speaks about authorities in this world.
1- Authorities are established by God
2- Authorities punish the wrongdoers
3- Authorities must be respected by all
I. AUTHORITIES ARE ESTABLISHED BY GOD
1 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. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. There is no authority except that which God has established.
ILL.- For thirty years, Johnson had arrived at work at 9 A.M. on the dot. He had never missed a day and was never late.Consequently, when on one particular day 9 A.M. passed without Johnson's arrival, it caused a sensation. All work ceased, and the boss himself, looking at his watch and muttering, came out into the corridor.
Finally, precisely at ten, Johnson showed up, clothes dusty and torn, his face scratched and bruised, his glasses bent. He limped painfully to the time clock, punched in, and said, aware that all eyes were upon him, "I tripped and rolled down two flights of stairs in the subway. Nearly killed myself." And the boss said, "And to roll down two flights of stairs took you a whole hour?"
Did you ever have a mean boss or an uncompassionate boss who questioned everything you did? There is no authority except that which God has established.
How could it be God-ordained that you have to work for a bad boss? It may be God-ordained. It may have just happened. God doesn’t arrange or pre-arrange everything that happens to us in life but He does allow us to be in some situations whether they be good or bad in order for us to grow and depend on Him.
It is a God-ordained thing to have a boss because most of us have to work and most of us have bosses who are over us. And some may not be the best to work for but work, we must.
What about other authorities who might be God-ordained? The law is God-ordained. No country in this world can live without some kind of law. If there were no laws anywhere there would be complete chaos and evil would run rampant. So God has ordained for mankind to have law and have authorities over us such as the police, etc.
According to this text, if we rebel against the authorities that exist, the law, for example then we are rebelling against God and we’ll pay for that. Yes, and we might pay for a traffic ticket which we deserved if we were speeding or driving carelessly and recklessly. And that would be rebelling against the authorities.
ILL.- When I was a student in college back in the 1960‘s I drove a 1968 Pontiac Firebird and another college friend drove a 1967 Pontiac GTO. Would you care to guess what we did? Yes, there were times when we’d go drag racing down the streets of Joplin, MO. Was that rebelling against the authorities? Well, yes, and my friend got caught one night and was put in jail for speeding.
He asked if he could call someone and he called the college president and asked him if he would come and get him out of jail. The president said, “no,” and let him sit in jail all night for his rebellion. IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME BUT IT WASN’T. One thing I knew I should never do and that was to try and outrun the police.
There is no authority except that which God has established. This holds true for the local law, the state law and governmental law as well. We may not like those in office: governor, congressmen, President, etc. but we must still respect those offices. Here’s the best thing we can do, besides obeying the law and voting.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 “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.”
We submit to God-ordained authorities. We pray for them, work hard, and hopefully, that will result in peace and God’s blessing.
II. AUTHORITIES PUNISH THE WRONGDOERS
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 he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
ILL.- Some time ago a routine police patrol parked outside a Lafayette, LA, tavern. After last call, the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so intoxicated that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the street for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an eternity and trying his keys on five vehicles, the man managed to find his car, which he fell into. He was there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off.
Finally the man started the car, switched the wipers on and off (it was a fine dry night), flicked the blinkers on and off, honked the horn, and then switched on the lights. He moved the vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little, and then remained still for a few more minutes as some more vehicles left. At last he pulled out of the parking lot and started to drive slowly down the road.
The police officer, having patiently waited all this time, now started up the patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over, and carried out a breathalyzer test. To his amazement, the breathalyzer indicated no evidence of the man having consumed alcohol at all! Dumbfounded, the officer said, "I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the police station. This breathalyzer equipment must be broken."
"I doubt it," said the man. "Tonight I'm the designated decoy."
I’ve never heard of that before. I guess it was a trick that worked, however, I don’t know that I would do that. I would be afraid that the police would give me a ticket for misleading the law or perhaps charge me with guilt by association.
He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. This sounds like the law to me: the police, the courts of law, etc. So what should we do? Obey the law if we don’t want to be punished for doing wrong. How much punishment can we receive if we do wrong? Obviously, it depends on what you do that is wrong.
If a person is going to break the law by stealing they may end up jail or prison for a very long time. There have been several men around our town who have walked into banks, held them up, dashed off with some cash only to be picked up by the police in a short time. And where do you think they are?
ILL.- One time a Ford Mustang pulled into Sam’s when I was getting gas for my car. I could tell it was no ordinary Mustang by the sound of the exhaust pipes. The lady who was driving it said that she and her husband bought in Batesville, AR, at the Ford dealer and it was a hot rod Mustang, Roush stage 3 or something like. She said it had over 450 hp with a supercharger on it. She said they hit over 150 mph coming home from Batesville to Jonesboro. I said, “Do you know what would happened to you if had been picked up driving that fast?” She said, “Yes, I was picked doing 112 mph going to Memphis one time.” Well, that’s just asking for the police to take you to jail and who knows how much the ticket would be.
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 he will commend you. I don’t know about the commending part, but I do know that the law is out to punish wrongdoers.
III. AUTHORITIES MUST BE RESPECTED BY ALL
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because 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 everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
ILL.- A couple of young boys were fishing at their special pond off the beaten track. All of a sudden, the game warden jumped out of the bushes. Immediately, one of the boys threw his rod down and started running through the woods like a bat out of a cave. The game warden was hot on his heels.
After about a half mile, the young man stopped and stooped over with his hands on his thighs to catch his breath, so the game warden finally caught up to him. "Let's see yer fishin' license, boy!" the warden gasped.
With that, the boy pulled out his wallet and gave the game warden a valid fishing license. "Well, son," said the game warden, "you must be about as dumb as a box of rocks! You don't have to run from me if you have a valid license!" "Yes, sir," replied the young guy, "but my friend back there, well, he don't have one."
Respect for authorities or the law means to have a fishing license when it’s required. Respect for the law means to abide by the law whatever that law is. Respect for the law means to pay your taxes even if you don’t like to pay them.
Many people don’t think the tax laws are fair but if you think things are bad in Arkansas you should try living in the state of Illinois. It is not the state of contentment that the apostle Paul talked about in Philippians 4:11 KJV “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Everything in the state of IL is higher than in AR. Nevertheless, respect for the law means that we pay our taxes, revenue, etc. even if we don’t like it.
The authorities, whoever they are, are God’s servant and deserve our respect. Some should be honored above honors, I’m sure. That is, if they’ve gone a good job when it comes to serving the public. It may be hard to give honor to some others.
ILL.- Bob Russell preached at the large Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, for 40 years and retired in 2006. The church averages around 18,000 every weekend. When he went there they were averaging 120 or so. It would be easy to honor Bob Russell for his long and large ministry. Preachers like Bob are quick to be honored by others. But then there is my friend, Mike Rathbone, who preached at the First Christian Church in Murfreesboro, AR, a church than run under 200 most of the time. He served that church faithfully for 14 years and passed away at the age of 63 in 2009. Mike deserved just as much honor at Bob Russell. He served in a small town and in a small church but was just as faithful and committed to the Lord’s work.
Those who serve the public, however, deserve honor. It seems that we all need to show more respect and honor for all and any who serve others in any way.
And here is the submission to the greatest authority that is due Him:
ILL.- At a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, former New York Yankee second baseman, offered a prayer that is a classic in brevity: “Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen.”
Steve Shepherd, Cape Girardeau, MO