Today's Reading: Table of Duties: Government
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. (Romans 13:1)
The 4th commandment speaks of the gift of parents and “other authorities,” including those who govern. Governing authority comes from God, not from men. Jesus, standing before Pilate, said, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” Governing authority is God’s authority, which may be used for blessing, in the case of good government, or a curse, in the case of bad government.
The old Adam in us is power hungry, eager to use authority as power to control others and force them to do our will. They say “power corrupts,” but it isn’t governing authority that corrupts. It’s what sin does with this gift of God. Sin corrupts, and turns authority to serve into power to control. Politicians line their own pockets with the money of their citizens, or take advantage of their office to oppress others rather than serve others. The same government of which Paul was writing would one day cut off his head and crucify Peter upside down.
In spite of all the abuses of bad government, God would have us see governing authority as His good and perfect gift. It’s the gift of order, holding that “inner anarchist” of ours in check so that we do not harm ourselves or others. Imagine what it would be like if the police and firemen announced they were not coming to work on Monday. There would be terror and chaos in the streets.
Even the Garden of Eden had an order - the trees of life and death were in the center of the Garden where God alone reigned. Governing authority is God’s authority, given for our blessing and good. In this, an election year, we are reminded that our choice of whom we believe should exercise this authority is very important. They are the Lord’s servants, and their authority is His gift.
Grant wisdom, strength, and blessing, gracious Father, to all who govern, that under Your fatherly care we may be governed justly and wisely, so that we may live in all peaceable godliness, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.