Being a Good Citizen

Romans 13:1-7 ESV

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 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. It often seems so easy to be frustrated and to be unwilling to have respect for those who are in authority over us, especially as you get older and see decisions that don't seem to be especially good ones. I am guilty of being one of those who can have a very bad attitude towards authority which doesn't go along with what I think is right. This scripture is pretty clear that all who are in authority over us are from God. So when I have a bad attitude towards authority I am going against whom God has put in place as His servants. When I disobey or disrespect authority I am dishonoring God. I hear people often say, especially this past year, the government is just taking my rights away, I am not going to do what they say I must do. This really goes against what Paul is telling us we should do. The only time I have the right to go against authority is when it goes against what Gods word tells me or when I am told I can no longer declare God as being the ultimate authority. I'm having to constantly remind myself of this truth.

Sometimes it's easy to think, Paul couldn't be talking about how we should respect our leaders, our leaders are really so much worse and don't deserve our respect. But when you look at whom the governing authorities were in the times which he was writing this, that government was much worse then anything we have today and yet Paul was saying the people of that day needed to obey the authorities.

Trying to understand why God would use such bad people to be His servants. God chooses leaders not always to bless His people but sometimes to bring judgment on them because they refuse to repent and live the way He expects. I can see where I've been guilty of seeking joy in the things of this world more than seeking joy in the things of God's Kingdom and desiring to have the things this world offers over what God wants for me. God knows that if I would only live the way He wants me to, I would have so much joy and have that fellowship with Him that He desires to have with me.

Looking at the times of when Paul was writing this, the people were refusing to believe Jesus as messiah and still trying to live the old law. Sexual sins were also very common even among God's people. God was preparing to bring judgment on them by allowing the worst ruler of all times to be in authority. That could be what is going on today. Seems many of the ones who are in authority today are mostly about themselves and are full of greed, trying to make gains for themselves rather than doing things for the good of the people. We still need to obey and have respect for the position God has put them in, knowing God will hold them accountable for what they do but will also hold us accountable for what we do, or won't do.

by Ken Edgerly

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