Devotion 431 – Tuesday of Pentecost 24

Opening Prayer

Lord, let Your Word chasten us and teach us obedience toward You. Amen.

Text: Romans 13:1-7

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 rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; 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. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Devotion

Paul writes this to the Christians in Rome and teaches them that even rulers like Tiberius and Nero are appointed by God. The first duty of government is justice. A good government punishes the wicked without regard for persons, and carries its sword with strong arm to defend the oppressed, but to judge the wicked. And such government is a great blessing. None of us understands how very thankful we should be to God for just rulers and authorities. Woe to the people of whom it will be said: “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them” (Isa 3:4). But all this does not nullify the fact that “the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” If a nation suffers under wicked rulers, then the Christians there must submit to God’s discipline. For every soul should be submissive to the powers set over them, look up to them as God’s servants, whom for that reason Scripture even calls “gods” (Psa 82:6), and submit to them for God’s sake. In our day it is taught that the authorities are not God’s servants, but only servants of the people, the power of the people, those who hold the power of the people, those who exercise the power of the people. Let Christians not be led astray! Above the people sits a higher Power, to whom the government are answerable, and to whom the subjects are answerable. Let our rulers never forget that the power they have is from God. Let them always remember this, so that they serve God with a good conscience, and let us as citizens never forget that our government is from God. Let us keep this in mind, so that we submit for conscience’ sake!

Willingly then we pay our taxes and customs. – Everything from God and for God. Respectfully then we treat our superiors, far different from the children of hell who “defy dominions and despise authority” (2Pe 2:10). Submission for God’s sake and thus respectful behavior are the exact opposite of groveling, which is shamelessness’ brother. Both are children of deceit. And what the government bids us, we do with sincere obedience, bearing injustice, but not using injustice, – for we “obey God rather than men” (Act 5:29).

Closing Prayer

Lord, help us to be subject to all human order for Your sake. Grant us the right spirit of freedom and obedience. Amen.

Hymn

On those who rule our country
O show’r Thy blessings down,
And in Thy lovingkindness
Adorn, as with a crown,
With piety our youth,
With godliness our nation,
That all, to gain salvation,
May know Thy heav’nly truth.

With holy zeal then fill us,
To keep the faith still pure;
And bless our lands and houses
With wealth that may endure;
And make the foe to flee,
Who in us with Thee striveth,
From out our heart he driveth
Whate’er delighteth Thee.

Gerhardt: O enter, Lord, Thy temple L 564:3-4 ELHB 252:10-11 tr. C. Winkworth;
tune: Zeuch ein (TLH 228) or Aus meines Herzens (ELH 79); alternate hymn: Let children hear the mighty deeds ELH 180

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