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Respect For Governing Authorities
by Mark Nickles
1/22/2020 / Christian Living
We live in a confusing (and dangerous) time, when it is considered increasingly acceptable to hold authoritative figures in disdain. This is most often carried out against those with whom we have the closest contact – officers of the law. From buckets of water being dumped on them, to verbal insults, to the sad and frightening accounts of violence against them, these men and women are enduring more acts of disrespect and hatred every day. And, while the Bible does not speak directly to these types of incidents, God’s word clearly sheds a disapproving light upon such acts.
Romans 13 comments heavily on the subject, beginning with verse one, which says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Our system of laws is based on God’s system of morality. Consequently, those who represent that system are to have our obedience, as well as a respect for the office they hold, at the very least.
Verse 4 further comments about “the one in authority”, saying “he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” This is a powerful statement, revealing God’s mind on obeying the law.
Verse 7 tells us to “Give everyone what you owe him”, whether it is respect, honor or taxes. Clearly, God desires just laws to be upheld, and those in authority to be well-regarded.
The question comes, however, “What about laws which go against God’s will and word?” Let me say first of all, that there is NO revelation of God’s will outside of the Bible, His revealed word. Also, I believe that the basic framework of our system of laws is just, agreeing with His word. That being said, Paul confronted this problem in Acts 5, when the ruling authorities told him to stop teaching about Jesus. His answer, and ours today, is, “We must obey God rather than men!”
God has called His people to be obedient and respectful toward governing bodies and those in authority, as they enforce the law. This is our witness, and our spiritual heritage. To do anything less is not only showing disrespect for governing authorities, but contempt for God, Himself.
Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.
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