Romans 13:1-7 - 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.
In my experience, every time this Bible passage comes up for discussion, people focus right away on the extreme cases, like the Nazis. But I think the passage is harder to take when we look at the ordinary cases—the ones that happen to us every day.
Take taxes, for instance. I knew a man who just automatically assumed I wanted him to fudge my taxes for me. It never occurred to him that anyone would choose to be honest. That's a temptation I didn't need.
Or take respect. We all know authorities who don't deserve to be respected, but Paul calls us to behave respectfully anyway—and how hard it is, especially when the person has mistreated us!
What can we do when we're facing these situations? We turn to Jesus for help.
Jesus understands what it's like to be mistreated—after all, He had to deal with Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate, all of them doing the worst they could with the authority God had given them. And I trust that He will give me His Holy Spirit to help me when I'm tempted to answer evil for evil.
But best of all, we can turn to Him for forgiveness when we get it wrong—because Jesus is the one Authority who has shown His love for us by giving His own life to rescue us from evil. Although He is Judge of the universe, He submitted to coming into our world as a human being, subject to good and bad authorities alike. He did more than that, He used the actions of those authorities in arresting Him, trying Him, and crucifying Him as part of His plan to rescue all of us from sin, death, and the devil. Now we who trust in Him will not come under judgment—because the Judge of all has made Himself the Servant of all, and has taken away the blame that lay against us. We are in His mercy forever.
WE PRAY: Lord Jesus, when I'm in trouble with the authorities over me, come and help me! Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Why is it so hard to submit to a boss who annoys or mistreats us?
2. Do you pray for leaders you can't stand? If so, how?
3. In Christ, what legitimate things could you do when you're dealing with a wrong-headed authority?
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