Romans 13

Romans 13 deals with the topic of authorities in our life.  Paul addresses a topic that many of us would just as soon avoid.  But God’s truth is clear here – we are to be obedient to those in authority over us – be it government, law enforcement, TSA – whatever has been put in place we need to be obedient to.  “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities….there is no authority except from God….those that exist have been instituted by God”.  The command is universal – every person – it applies to all.  The requirement is to be subject to – to obey and follow the direction of – not when we want to or it fits our plan – but in every case.  We are to obey authority.  Does this continue on to relationships at work, for example?  I think other places in scripture would say that God’s plan is for us to obey all people in a position of authority over us.   Nowhere does it say you should obey when you agree with them.  Nowhere does it say you should be subject if it fits your timeline or agenda.  It is simply a directive to be subject to authority.

Paul goes on to say it this way: “do what is good, and you will receive his approval….he is God’s servant for your good….one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience”.  Authority is in place for our good.  God takes it seriously.  We need to be obedient.  And then Paul talks about another aspect of authority – how we handle money in relationship to those in charge.  “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed”.  So taxes are not an area we should be messing with – if we owe it we should pay it.  We also need to show respect which can be a bigger challenge than obedience in many ways.  But authorities – whether it feels like it or not – are instituted by God.   And our response cannot be based on our political party or whether we agree with their decisions or not.  It is about obedience to God’s commandments.  We are to be subject to, pay what is owed, respect and honor those in authority.  That can be a rather hard pill to swallow but it is God’s plan!

Paul goes on to say that all the commandments can be “summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.  Want to know how to live?  Follow this statement and you will be on the right path most of the time.  We need to love.  We need to realize that “love is the fulfilling of the law“.  How are you showing love to those around you?  Do you love them like you love yourself?  Do you put them in the center of your world and put self out of the limelight.  We need to love others.  Paul tells us that part of doing that is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires”.  We lose track of what is important when we spend our time and effort gratifying our own desires.  We need to put off self and put on Jesus.  Then we will truly be able to love as God loved us.  But as long as self is in the middle we will struggle to love God’s way.  Put God in the center – Jesus on the throne – and love others!

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