Reflections: Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s Reading: Table of Duties: Civil Government

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 30:15-26; Revelation 2:1-29

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Rom. 13:1-4).

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. One of the great comforts of Jesus becoming Incarnate man is that Jesus knows about life here in this fallen world.  You’re not the only ones who have lived under the rule of earthly kings and princes; Your Lord Jesus did too.  Our Table of Duties from the Small Catechism teaches what our life looks like in this fallen world.  We, the baptized, are instructed about Civil Governance not just so we can live, breathe and have our being when they do their job well. We’re to be subject to governing authorities even and especially when the people who bear the sword of the Law of God aren’t Christian, even when they act in ways that are contrary to the very word of God. 

God cares so much about order, safety and care for all people that He appoints servants to bear the sword of wrath, the sword of Justice and civil punishment for varying violations of the 10 commands; it’s good to have order, it’s good that the wicked are punished for crimes and we are given the promise that God ordains this sword for order, for good and not in vain.  

Out of Chaos, darkness and nothingness God said “Let there be light…” and there was; evening and morning the first day.  There God appointed Adam as steward, caretaker of the creation, Adam named animals, called them by the names that have stuck since then.  But the reading gets sorta strange when we see that God the Father appoints ministers, that is, avengers to execute wrath on those who practice evil.  This passage in the table of duties isn’t talking about your pastor, or even a vigilante Christian who seeks to impose morals and virtues across the land. No, the table of duties reminds us that God has appointed authorities, by His good and gracious will, to maintain order here in the land we sojourn through.  Ministers, persons given authority by God to punish criminals, law breakers and the like.  This ought to be.  But what do we owe to those men and women God has appointed for our good; yes, even when they act out of line… gulp!

Why do we owe them honor?  Simply put, Our Gracious God has placed them over us to execute their charges for our good. Yes, there will be tyrants and despots and we pray the Lord will be merciful to them when they abdicate their calling. We should pray for our President, Congress, Governors and Mayors, Police and School Boards that their ears would be opened to hear the gracious care of our Lord. We pray that they be given strength and integrity to govern us in a way that is good and right in the sight of God; we owe them honor not because THEY are good, but because our Lord and God is good and He has graciously given them to us as a defense, for our safety and good.  In the Name of Jesus, amen. 

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 wise decisions for the general welfare and serve You faithfully in our generation; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

-Pastor Adam DeGroot is Pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico..

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Harrison Goodman.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.