Romans 13:1-10— In this coming week’s epistle lesson St. Paul teaches civil governments have been given their authority by God. Thus, the Christian submits himself to that rule which God has established, and exhorts others to do the same.
St. Paul also tells us how we are to live with our fellow man: letting love for the neighbor guide all our actions and dealings. This love is not of ourselves, but flows from Christ, who first loved us.
Paul lists three reasons why the Roman Christians are to submit to the authorities. These arguments which Paul points out apply to us today.
First, no authority exists except from God, and all authorities that exist have been instituted by God (13:1b).
Second, rulers are not a terror to good conduct but rather to bad behavior. (13:3a). The state has the right and the duty to punish those who break the law.
Third, the authority/ruler is God’s servant in three ways:
1. For the citizen’s good. Civic leaders are civil servants. They rule on our behalf for our benefit. So that we can be free to our primary task as Christians to gossip the gospel.
2. To execute wrath on the wrongdoer. If there are no reprisals there will be lawlessness which is never good.
3. By being busy with “this very thing,” that is, collecting taxes. (13:4a, 4c, 6b). Yes, it cost money to pave the roads, provide infrastructure, and a better way of life.
In less than two months we will hold a national election. Paul’s teachings remind us that while we remain citizens of heaven we still operate on this earth in the civilian world. As we live in society we act as model citizens.
We live in a divided country and there will be strong debate over the direction of our country in these months leading to our next election. We can have strong opinions and points of view. Paul’s directive gives us the framework from which we are to proceed.
For our Country: Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Make us who came from many nations with many different languages a united people. Defend our liberties, and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful; and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
For Responsible Citizenship: Lord keep this nation under Your care. Bless the leaders of our land that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Help us provide trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve You faithfully in our generation to the honor of Your holy name.
Image of the American flag copyright © Google imagesPrayers from Lutheran Service Book © 20006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis