Summary: A devotion for growing believers
“LET EVERY SOUL BE SUBJECT TO THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES. FOR THERE IS NO AUTHORITY EXCEPT FROM GOD, AND EVERY AUTHORITY THAT EXISTS IS FROM GOD.”
Now here is a passage of scripture that is very neglected; and we are living in a time when it should be taught often.
In the thirteenth chapter of Romans, Paul is exhorting believers to give respect to authorities, and pay dues. This must have been tough counsel for the Christians in Rome, because not only had they recently gone through some very trying times because of Roman opposition to their faith, they were about to go through the worst times they had ever seen.
Only a few years after Paul sent this letter to them, emperor Nero had a large portion of Rome burned (there were slums and he wanted to clean them up) and he had word spread around that the Christians had been the arsons who did it. This brought great persecution on the Christians, and many of them died because of it.
In addition, Nero, being a very evil and perverted soul, used to dip Christians in oil, tie them to stakes in his garden, and set them on fire to light up his nighttime garden orgies.
There are many other stories like this, about the sufferings of the Christians in Rome during this time. But here is the setting in which Paul exhorted them to pay respect, honor and taxes to those in authority.
In comparison, we curse and ridicule our leaders, from our immediate supervisors on up to our national leaders, for every unsound or unpopular decision; and all too often, we who complain the loudest are the last to drag ourselves out to vote on election day.
It ought not to be this way. Paul says EVERY authority that exists is from God. Does that mean God wants evil men to have rule over us? No! It means they only exist by His grace, and furthermore, they exist there to serve His plan and His purpose, even if they think they have all the power and can do anything they want without accountability.
God wants us to grow spiritually in this manner; He wants us to give respect due the office of those over us, as good stewards of what is entrusted to us, and brothers and sisters of the one who emptied Himself and took the form of a servant. In trial, He wants us to act respectfully and with Christlike love, and let Him work through us; MAYBE EVEN TO SAVE THE ONE IN AUTHORITY! God does not work through rebels. He does not show His love through someone who will only show disdain and hatred. Read the rest of chapter 13 and you’ll see evidence of that.
When the Pharisees challenged Jesus by asking Him whether they should pay taxes to an oppressive government like Rome, He had them hold out a coin. After pointing out that Caesar’s picture was on the coin, He said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s” But He did not tell them to riot, or rebel, or disrespect even their enemies, who had rule over them. You see, if we leave it in God’s hands, HE will take care of the bullies.
And who knows which of those bullies we’ll end up spending eternity with, because they saw our love and patience and respect, and eventually listened to the message of the gospel?
We have no more right to Heaven than they have, and often it is God’s greatest enemies who end up being His greatest preachers.