October 1, 2008 - Wednesday of the 19th Week after Trinity

Today's Reading: Table of Duties: Citizens

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 2:16-37; Matthew 6:16-34

Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:7)

Taxes. Who wants to pay taxes? More than that, who would have thought that paying taxes is a spiritual act of worship? Only the Word can reveal such hidden things to us. We have this notion that governing authority comes from the people. The apostle Paul says it comes from God Himself. If governing authority is from God, then what is owed Caesar is also owed God, since Caesar is God’s temporal minister of justice. And so taxes, revenue, respect, honor are all due to the governing authorities, if for no other reason than they are God’s authority.

Is this the rule, also, when government is evil and oppressive? The apostles were clear. “We ought to obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Where government conflicts with the clear Word of God, we have no choice. We also will suffer the consequences, as the early Christians did. They did not resist the governing authority, but were honored to be considered worthy to give their lives in testimony (martyrdom) to Jesus. Paul and Peter were both martyred under the Roman Caesar Nero.

Who would have thought that paying taxes, obeying the speed limit, honoring those who hold public office was considered holy work before the Lord? Who would have considered such things “spiritual worship” and “living sacrifices” of thanksgiving to God? Yet this is what they are.

In a fallen world, government does not always do the will of God. St. Paul is writing in a fallen world, and he knows it. The old Adam in us is an anarchist who desires his own way, to be his own governor, to order everything under him. For our blessing and our restraint, for outward order and for inward repentance, God has established the gift of government and order for us under the civil authority. Even Jesus, King of all kings and Lord of all lords, submitted to the governing authority, being the obedient Citizen for us all to His own death to save us.

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. Grant that we may choose trustworthy leaders, contribute to the wise decisions for the general welfare, and serve You faithfully in our generation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.