As we look around our country, we realize that this chapter could have been written just for us at such a time as this. Remember that Paul was writing to the Jews living in Rome, under Roman rule, paying Roman taxes, and being persecuted, tortured, and denied their rights. How are we to live in those kinds of conditions?
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. 5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.Romans 13, NLT
As I read Romans 13, I identified three categories for our information chart:
- Government/Authority. It’s not just the federal to local governments, but everyone in a position of authority at schools, jobs, military duty, churches, and at home.
- Our Responsibility. What does God require of me?
- Timeline. What am I waiting for?
What are you hearing from God as you read this chapter?
If we joined in with the flavor of the world around us today, this chapter would open up screaming matches, finger pointing, judging, investigations, and lots of news coverage. But I think each of us has to read this for ouselves and decide how we will live in the way Paul describes. With that in mind, I am posing some questions that came to my mind:
- What if the government’s laws and actions go against the Lord’s commandments? How am I to respond?
- If I stage a protest or work to change a law, how do I do it in a way that fits Paul’s description?
- How do I show respect to my family, my neighbors, my fellow citizens? Do I need to work on this aspect of my behavior and thinking?
- What’s money go to do with it?
Will you draw a picture or find one that suits your thoughts?
I love to hear where you are as we go through Romans together. You can comment in the section below or email me. See you tomorrow.