The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Patriotism
Fear the Lord and the King
Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious.
It is often said that God only established three institutions-the home, the church, and the state. In so doing, He gave us explicit instructions on how all three were to operate. Most Christians know a great deal about what God has to say about the home and church. We know much less about what God says about the state and how we should relate to it. For instance, what does it mean to be a Christian living under a pagan government? Is violent revolution ever justified? Is it wrong to pay taxes to an unjust government? What about picketing abortion clinics? Under what circumstances should Christians disobey the law? What about the separation of church and state? Should Christians serve in the armed forces? How do you respond when those over you are corrupt?
These are all important questions, and none of them admits to a simple answer. Romans 13:1 tells us that “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.” The word authority is very broad. It means “right” or “privilege.” An authority is anyone who has the right to do something. If your job gives you the right to make certain decisions, when you are on the job, you are an “authority.” Seen in another light, an authority is anyone who has the right to make decisions that directly affect your life.
Then there is an explicit directive. “Submit to the governing authorities.” No ifs, ands, or buts. Just the word submit. Let me a share a simple definition that may help you. Submission is believing that God is able to accomplish His will in my life through the people He has placed in authority over me. That’s a crucial definition because it focuses the attention on God, not on the person over you. We all have to contend at times with unsaved husbands, mean-spirited parents, cranky bosses, and teachers who can’t wait for the end of the semester. Sometimes we’ll work for people we can’t stand. Or live with people who treat us cruelly. Or suffer under a government that consistently promotes evil.
What do you do, then? Actually, you have many options. The most important thing is the attitude of your heart. You must submit to the one in authority, in the sense that you must believe God has put that person in your life for a purpose and that God’s will is somehow being done through that person, even if you don’t see it and don’t understand it.
This, by the way, is the basis for treating our leaders with respect. Christians ought to lead the way in showing honor to human authorities because we understand they are appointed by God. Whom God has appointed, I must not treat lightly.
If we believe what the Bible says, it will make us better Christians and ultimately better citizens. We may disagree, but we won’t resort to violence and we won’t join the ranks of the rebellious.
Heavenly Father, since I am a citizen of two realms, help me to represent You well by showing proper honor to those in authority over me. Amen.
In what areas of life are you in authority and in what areas are you under authority? What does it mean for you to show honor to those who are over you? When is it a struggle for you?
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