Saturday after the Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Romans 13:1-7 (NKJV)
13:1 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. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 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. 4 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. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Everyone and every thing on this earth belongs to God. He made it and He sustains it. This includes, as today’s reading indicates, civil authority. Romans 13 is merely a detailed aspect of the Fourth Commandment, which directs us to honor our authorities. This is quite a statement coming from Paul, since the civil government to which he was subject was not only pagan, but incredibly harsh. And yet, Paul says: “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.” The “judgment” to which Paul refers is two-fold. First, breaking civil law will yield punishment from the governing authorities. Nobody knew that better than the citizens of Rome! But more importantly, violation of civil law is an affront against God, who stands behind all civil authority (Fourth Commandment).
Of course, there is a limit to our civil obedience. If that obedience puts us in conflict with God, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Let us give thanks for the freedom we enjoy is this country, and pray that God will preserve our right to worship Him and proclaim His Name without fear.
We pray: God bless our native land!
Firm may she ever stand
Thro’ storm and night!
When the wild tempests rave,
Ruler of wind and wave.
Do Thou our country save
By Thy great might. (TLH 577:1)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.