Minister's Thoughts

Pray Today

What should the Believer’s attitude to governments be?

Someone has suggested that people should obey the decrees of the President of the United States of America, and by extension all governments, because the Bible says so. Is this true? The answer is YES, and NO.

In the First Letter of Peter in Chapter 2 and verses 13-14 believers are told to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. Verse 17 emphasises that this is also a matter of respect: Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.

Similarly in Romans 13 and verses 1 and 5 believers are told: 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. And in verse 5: Therefore it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. It is also in the Letter to the Romans (13:6) that believers are enjoined to pay their taxes: This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

There are many other passages relating to the attitude of believers to government, but the counsel of Paul to Titus in Chapter 3 gives guidance that could well be adopted by citizens, governments, politicians, media and those who tweet and communicate by various forms of social media: The Apostle Paul says, Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 13:8) also gives an excellent account of what the principle hallmark of the Law should be: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

So then YES obedience to government provides for security and good order, but must it always be obeyed by people of faith? Well, NO.

For example when Peter and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest (Acts 5:27-29), their reply was “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Peter and John had already given a similar reply to the Sanhedrin who had commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. At that time they had said: “Which is right in God’s eyes; to listen to you, or to Him?” (Acts 4:19.)

When all is said and done for believers and for governments and authorities it is all about serving and not being served. In Matthew’s Gospel in Chapter 20 and verses 25-28 Jesus said this to his disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom to many.

Above all, we should always consult the Bible before we act, rather than acting first and then trying to find a Bible passage that supports our decision.

Rev. Bob Anderson
Minister

Reading 1 – 1 Timothy 1:12-17
1 Timothy 1:12-17 New International Version (NIV) The Lord’s Grace to Paul 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.  
Reading 2 – Luke 15:1-10
Luke 15:1-10 New International Version (NIV) The Parable of the Lost Sheep 15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. The Parable of the Lost Coin 8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”