Obey the Government

Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul...

Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul, designed by Cass Gilbert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Romans 13:1-10

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 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 you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Love Fulfills the Law

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

We may disagree with the statutes of government.  We may think they are ludicrous, even tyrannical.    But, until such time as they are not the law of the land, we are obligated by God to subject ourselves to all of them.  How are we doing?

And now, the second half of the story–love you neighbor as yourself.  Part of government’s job is providing for an orderly society and giving equal protection to each citizen.  We would certainly want that,  since we strive to put aside our selfish ambitions and defer to our neighbors out of love and respect for them.  How are we doing with that?

OK.  I’m a sinner.  I’m a selfish, arrogant, egotistical sinner.  Sometimes, my anger is righteous.  But St. Paul tells us, “In your anger, do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:25).  When the day is over, we must present our requests to God and let him work out the solutions.  May I call my congress reps and tell them my feelings on certain matters?  Yes!  May I campaign for honest candidates who will govern with integrity?  Yes!  May I pray for God to give wisdom to the leaders who are, after all, only fallible humans?  Yes!  May I run down government officials and call them every kind of demeaning name that befits their ineptitude?  No!

I am guilty.  I have not set a good example for my leaders.  I have done all the things for which I call them to task.  I have been lazy.  I have played fast and loose with the rules.  I have considered myself above the law when it’s inconvenient for me.  I have withheld the truth.  I have demeaned.  I am no more perfect than they are.  Forgive me, God.  Forgive them, too, God, when they act blindly.  Help them to be people worthy of their station.  Amen.

After 237 years, this land is still a land of great opportunity and many liberties.  It is also a testament to the fact that a Godly country is no accident and bears responsibility of all involved to work at keeping it.  Loving our neighbor is the key.  That is why we must obey the government.  When we despise the government, we open the way for anarchism, which will not, in the long run, give us or our neighbors a prayer of enjoying a well-regulated society.

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Filed under Law and Politics, Meditations

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