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 – Genesis 18:1-10
Genesis 18:1-10 New International Version (NIV) The Three Visitors 18 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.  3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”  “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[b] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”  7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.  9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said.  10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”  Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.  
Reading 2 – Luke 10:38-42
Luke 10:38-42 New International Version (NIV) At the Home of Martha and Mary 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”